Disposal of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

by Maskil on 25 Sep 2008

In February this year, I sent the following suggestion to The Lighting Warehouse (Pty) Ltd, one of the largest retailers of light fittings and related electrical products in South Africa.

Suggestion regarding disposal of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

I understand that CFLs (becoming increasingly popular as a result of the Eskom power crisis) contain mercury and that this complicates the disposal of fluorescent lamps and causes a health risk when they are broken. I would like to suggest that the Lighting Warehouse set up in-store collection points for the proper disposal or recycling of these lamps.

As the collection points would operate from within your retail outlets during business hours, this should result in additional walk-in business and sales. It would also result in the Lighting Warehouse being seen as more Green/environmentally friendly than other retailers, while also helping to mitigate the effects of the Eskom power crisis in some way.

A couple of days later, I received the following response from Odette Bell – Executive Assistant at Lighting Warehouse.

Thank you for your valuable suggestions. Your comments will be forwarded to the Directors for consideration.

Perhaps it was sincere, but over time, I’ve received a lot of responses to my suggestions. I can recognise a kiss-off response when I see one. This was one, falling into the category of “yes, it’s a good idea for someone else/ we’re not actually going to do anything about it”.

So, while there’s predictably been no action on the part of Lighting Warehouse, I’m pleased to say that two of the leading retailers in SA – Pick n Pay and Woolworths – both now have initiatives in place for the disposal of CFLs.

Both involve large, distinctive cardboard recycle bins being placed stores. In the case of Pick n Pay, it appears that the bins have been placed in all stores (I’ve certainly seen them in all the stores I’ve visited). In the case of Woolworths, the CFL disposal initiative is (surprisingly) not mentioned on their environment web page, so I’m not sure whether it applies to all or just selected stores.

The Pick n Pay site also mentions a similar initiative to recycle used batteries, but thus far I haven’t seen any of the bins in stores I frequent.

Editorial: Where you have a choice, support the responsible retailer.

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