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September 1st, 2009

EU turns off incandescent bulbs

Published on September 1st, 2009 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Traditional light bulbs are being phased out in the 27 countries of the European Union, reports the New York Times. Europe will replace the bulbs as part of its plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by the year 2020.

Stores will be able to sell off their remaining stocks. However, starting Tuesday, the manufacture and import of the standard 100 watt and the frosted light bulb, which is deemed the most wasteful, will be banned.

And over the next three years, all incandescent bulbs, because they create more heat than light, will be phased out completely. A similar ban is set to begin in the United States in 2012.

Under the new European law, incandescent bulbs will be replaced by more efficient lighting systems like fluorescent, halogen or LED lamps. Although some firms are trying to develop and market higher-efficiency incandescents, these alternatives can save up to 80 percent of the energy used by the traditional bulbs.

The new lights will cost more but last longer, saving consumers money in the long run says Ferran Tarradellas, energy spokesman for the E.U.

“The equivalent of energy that we can save with this measure, it’s equivalent to the electricity consumption of Romania,” Tarradellas says. “It could bring back to Europe’s economy around five billion euros per year.”

Still, the measure is not being taken lightly by everyone.

Consumers in some countries, like Germany, are said to be stockpiling Thomas Edison’s old-style bulbs for cost reasons, or even out of nostalgia.

E.U. Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs tried to reassure Europeans in his blog by telling them, “Much like the car and telephone took time to catch on, you will one day appreciate the new era of lighting.”

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2 Responses to EU turns off incandescent bulbs

  1. Ann_Spence says:

    While it is true that compact fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, “heavily contaminated” is probably an overstatement. GE Lighting has a useful page on their site that offers information on exactly how much mercury is in a CFL bulb, as well as proper disposal instructions. It certainly isn’t convenient to find the proper waste management option, and realistically (and unfortunately) most people will probably just end up throwing them in the trash – much like batteries. I hope this is helpful!


  2. H I Bartlett says:

    So what is the plan to dispose of these energy saving light bulbs? It is my understanding that the florescent bulbs being touted in the USA are heavily contaminated with mercury. My elderly parents weren’t aware that throwing the energy saving bulbs in the trash was dangerous to the environment too. There is a warning on the package to dispose of properly but where to dispose them isn’t listed or shown. I quit buying the “energy saving” bulbs because I feel that not everyone will “dispose them properly” and contaminate the landfill with mercury.

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