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Recycling CFLs Is a Retail-based Collection Program the Answer? Vicki Fulbright Communication Manager Ecos Consulting 503.525.2700.

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Presentation on theme: "Recycling CFLs Is a Retail-based Collection Program the Answer? Vicki Fulbright Communication Manager Ecos Consulting 503.525.2700."— Presentation transcript:

1 Recycling CFLs Is a Retail-based Collection Program the Answer? Vicki Fulbright Communication Manager Ecos Consulting ext Northwest Hazardous Waste Conference June 2, 2003

2 Outline About Ecos Consulting Background information Proposed Retail-based Project –Stakeholder process, program components, budget –Strengths –Weaknesses –Recommendations Conclusions

3 Ecos Profile Founded 1997; 40+ employees with offices in Portland, Oregon, Southern California, and Durango, Colorado Market transformation coupled with resource acquisition –Research and policy Natural Resources Defense Council California Energy Commission Green Seal The Energy Foundation –Program design and implementation Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance ENERGY STAR® Residential Lighting Program Other clients: Energy Trust of Oregon, Idaho Power, Tacoma Power, PSE, CPUC, Nevada Power, Sierra Pacific Power Co., SMUD, MEEA

4 Ecos Profile cont. Designing and implementing award-winning programs over 130 utility territories for six years Cost effectiveness – deliver kWh at $ $0.04/kWh Broad range of services Relationships –Retailers & manufacturers –Energy Star program drivers (EPA, DOE, NRDC) –Utility organizations & customers –National labs Passion for energy efficiency and the environment

5 Background: CFLs and Mercury Health hazards of mercury profound and well understood – 10% of American women have concentrations of Hg in their blood that exceed safe levels Fluorescent lamps contain small amount of mercury, both linear and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) No likely near-term prospect for finding mercurys substitute

6 Background cont. Vast majority of fluorescent lighting substitutes for less energy efficient lighting alternatives, namely incandescent lamps. Prevents substantial mercury emissions at coal-fired power plants, which account for about 55% of total U.S. electricity production.

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8 Background cont. Energy Crisis 2001: 8.5 million CFLs distributed –56.8% in WA –29.2% in OR –9.9% in ID –4.0% in MT The Oregonian publishes front-page article winter 2002, Seattle Post-Intelligencer fall 2002 Group of sponsors commission Zero Waste Alliance to facilitate the design of a pilot project to recycle CFLs from households in Oregon

9 Background cont. Key program principles: –Avoid mercury buildup –Easy access to recycling –Program that is replicable and sustainable Goals: –Multi-stakeholder process –Encourage sale of energy-efficient products –Increase economic activity from recycling

10 Background cont. CFL Stakeholders Group formed –Utilities, government reps, retailers, NGOs, consulting firms, recycling companies and associations, lamp manufacturers, NEMA and waste haulers Three-phase process –Phase 1: Data collection and CFL recycling activity –Phase 2: Framework developed –Phase 3: Implementation

11 Background cont. Phase 2: –Program options presented Curbside Mail-in Increased HHW Retail stores –Strong lobby to look for alternative to HHW collection

12 The Retail-based Pilot Retail collection option selected –Customers drop CFLs off in bins –Selected three geographic regions Hillsboro Salem Bend –Timetable: 18 months start to finish

13 The Retail-based Pilot cont. $72,500 budget ($85,500 including in- kind services) Six participating retailers/three cities Project management Advertising Collateral development Recovery rate of 20% Transportation costs Miscellaneous office expenses

14 Retail-based Pilot cont. In-kind support –Free CFL recycling, promotion support, recycling hotline, advertising Advanced recovery fee is long-term funding strategy (impractical for pilot) Funding options for pilot presented –CFL Stakeholder Group participants –Solicited the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

15 Strengths ZWA management of stakeholder process Good survey of measures and recycling options Comprehensive reporting of progress Pilot relies on some successful mechanisms used to deliver CFLs to consumers –Retailer network –Coupons or other incentives where available –Utility involvement to help with program credibility

16 Weaknesses Little success in avoiding mercury buildup –In the context of anthropogenic sources, CFLs represent between 0.006% to.002% of gross total U.S. mercury emissions –CFLs too narrow a focus; pilot excludes tubes (will accept if brought, but will not be advertised) CFLs 4 – 5 milligrams mercury Tubes 8 – 12 milligrams mercury and larger market penetration (more in older lamps)

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18 Special Case of Oregon Only one coal-fired power plant, which uses a type of coal with lower than average mercury content and sophisticated pollution prevention technology that recovers about 25% of the mercury emissions – About 7% of the states electricity comes from coal (ignores the impact of imports, a few additional percents) CFLs prevent the emissions of substantial quantities of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants, reduce consumer energy bills, and last far longer than incandescent alternatives, which results in less waste going into landfills

19 Majority of these Hg emissions would still come from linear rather than compact fluorescent lamps. Including consideration of imported coal-fired power could tip the balance between positive and negative emissions. Oregon cont.

20 Weaknesses Easy Access to Recycling –Unsupported assertions: retail-based program called more convenient, but no research to support this claim –Need thorough study of retailer attitudes Replicable and sustainable –No correlation made between variables (e.g., state regulations, urban vs. rural, etc.) and program design No clear leading organization designated

21 Retail-based pilot failed to examine effectiveness, both in the amount of mercury removed from the waste stream and the cost per bulb for recycling. Weaknesses cont.

22 Recommendations Incorporate with other mercury-containing products (e.g., thermometers, thermostats, batteries, etc.) Rather than a solely retail-based pilot, compare between different types of programs (HHW facility, collection events) –OR DEQ data on fluorescent lamps available to perform baseline Study effective mercury reduction programs around the country/world (Hg removed, costs, key variables, etc.) Keep CFLs out of incinerators Prioritize areas with greatest need

23 CFL Sales and Recycling Centers

24 Other Considerations Important to consider whether recycling regulations might deter business and household use of compact fluorescent lamps – Could be more detrimental to the environment and public health (by discouraging energy savings) than the mercury found in the lamps – Hassle or cost associated with a need to recycle CFLs could give tentative consumers yet another reason to switch back to incandescent lamps – Using public utility funds to recycle CFLs may be especially problematic, since it would reduce the money available to fund the more societally beneficial activity of encouraging the products purchase in the first place

25 Conclusions Complex, hotly debated topic Rethink this particular approach to CFL recycling More study needed on promises/effects of labeling programs, recycling programs, legislation, etc. Prioritize efforts


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