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NewsHong Kong

Deadline looms for sales of incandescent light bulbs in city

Companies signed up to charter scheme start removing incandescent light bulbs from shelves, but others say legislation is needed

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 December, 2013, 4:57am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 December, 2013, 6:42am

Suppliers and retailers that signed a government charter to phase out power-hungry incandescent light bulbs will stop stocking and selling them from tomorrow.

The stores set a deadline to phase out the bulbs after the government launched its Energy Saving Charter on "No Incandescent Light Bulbs" as one of two moves to curb the city's electricity consumption in June.

The intention was to phase out incandescent light bulbs and replace them with more energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, which have become popular alternatives in recent years.

The scheme was introduced on a voluntary basis after failing to garner enough public support in 2011 to justify its legislation, according to the Environment Bureau. Currently 36 suppliers and 28 retailers have signed up, while another five trade associations and 113 user groups have committed to stop trading in and procuring the bulbs.

Supermarket chain ParknShop, one of the signatories to the scheme, said all incandescent light bulbs would be taken off its shelves from next month.

But Philips, one of the largest light bulb suppliers in Hong Kong, has not signed the charter and believes legislation would be a more effective way to get rid of inefficient lighting devices.

Senior public relations manager Pansy Chan said the company had been pushing for legislation to drive the phasing-out of inefficient lighting.

"We believe legislation [is] more effective in monitoring the market to push forward energy-efficiency," she said. "The incandescent bulb makes up only a minimal share of overall sales. The volume is not increasing."

Local lighting chain PLC said it had not signed the charter and would not stop selling incandescent light bulbs until its current stock ran out, as there was still demand from consumers.

"I guess the government is unable to set a sharp [mandatory] cut-off date for incandescent light bulbs, because some in the industry are still carrying a huge quantity," PLC senior marketing executive Yennis Ng said. She attributed the decline in sales to promotional and educational efforts by the industry, which raised public awareness of the benefits of CFL and LED lighting.

"The CFL and LED technologies are quite advanced nowadays and can readily adapt to different lighting designs … [even if] the government does nothing, [the old light bulbs] will slowly fade out," she said.

According to Environment Bureau figures, total annual sales of incandescent light bulbs dropped from some 20 million in 2008 to 13.5 million in 2011. It said a review would be conducted early next year on the effectiveness of the charter scheme.

The incandescent light bulbs being phased out include the non-reflector type of 25 watts or above, operating with a single-phase electricity supply of 220 volts.

Incandescent light bulbs are inefficient, as 90 per cent of the energy they consume is used for heating up the tungsten filament to produce light.


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This article is now closed to comments

I will only buy these allegedly 'energy savings' 'long life' bulbs if I can bring them back to the same store for disposal. "Pay'n Weep", please note.
Biggest issue is CFL's having Mercury in them and circuitry, plus the high amount of plastic too. Plus the bright White light certainly not good for the eyes long-term, LED ones seem a little better for some applications. However it is questionable to say CLF's and LED's are more environmentally friendly. There are hazards too for consumers when CFL's break.
CFLs have turned out to be a huge planned obsolescence con job. They're so bad they have to be replaced as frequently as incandescents. Remember when they were first released as "long-life" bulbs? They've gone quiet on that aspect, haven't they? The problem is they consume massively more energy and resources in manufacture than incandescents and pollute the environment on disposal. If they do not last far, far longer, their contribution to environmental protection is questionable.
Incandescent bulbs provide instant, brighter illumination than CFL or LED bulbs, they can be used with dimmer switches and they are far less costly to buy. It's a shame that people are being forced to buy the much more expensive, less illuminating CFL and LED products. Why can't consumers be free to make their own choice?


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