Having used light bulbs for more than a hundred years, within two decades we have little by little exchanged energy saving lamps by the LED lamp. What matters is that we make sure those new generations of lamps are properly disposed of and recycled, in order to regain raw materials without jeopardising the environment.
Last year, LightRec took some very important steps. For instance, it obtained the so-called AVV (‘generally binding agreement’) to make sure all manufacturers and importers take their responsibility in the system. This instrument is highly effective as it ensures participants take part in the social tasks of a national pick-up system. Because participants’ agreements are uniform, they are easy to verify. The AVV (effective as of 1 January 2014) will help LightRec realise its high ambitions in the years to come without giving free riding a chance.
Retailers welcome more recycling bins
In 2013, Wecycle placed special recycling bins at more than 800 stores, reaching 1,800 drop-off spots in total. Handing in defective lamps has never been this easy, and the recycling bins have a crystal-clear communicational value. These bins are now available at e.g. over 550 supermarkets, including Jumbo. Similar locations have been installed with wholesalers, allowing installers and professional end-users to also dispose of lamps and luminaires with the greatest of ease.
Although increasingly more retail chains are equipped with these recycling bins, some have been ignoring their legal obligation entirely, according to research conducted by Consumentenbond (consumers’ association in the Netherlands). LightRec once again tested whether stores take in old energy-saving lamps for recycling, provided consumers purchase new ones instead. In total, 80 percent of 620 stores that were investigated, observed this legal obligation, being slightly below the 83 percent of 2012. LightRec intends to perform the same research in 2014.
Informing consumers and professionals
In 2013, Wecycle launched awareness campaigns to emphasise the easy drop-off points available atretail stores. In addition to consumer campaigns, Wecycle and LightRec are also dedicated to informing professional users. According to recent research conducted by Möbius, no less than 97 percent of all CFLs are coming from the professional sector. Also, both LightRec and Wecycle on a regular basis seek opportunities in the media to underline the necessity to hand in old lamps and luminaires.
Result: upward trend despite lower sales figures
It seems that in 2013 a prudent step was taken towards increasing collection percentages of lamps and luminaires. Wecycle reported that over four million kilograms had been recycled, which is two percent higher compared to the preceding year while the amount of lamps put on market has dropped by nearly 10 percent. Increase in pick-up percentages of luminaires did level off. The collection rates for lamps as well as luminaires were one percentage point higher at 32.5 and 21.1 respectively.
Provision for collecting gas discharge lamps
LightRec is preparing a provision dedicated to the collection of gas discharge lamps. According to expectations, at a certain point these lamps will no longer be available on the market, and yet old lamps will have to be collected and recycled in due course. The purpose of this provision is to make sure future costs are not exclusively carried by manufacturers and importers of LED lamps.
Healthy financial situation
It is safe to say that LightRec is in good shape financially. The initial debt that followed from the obligation to also collect lamps and luminaires that were manufactured and placed on the market before 2005, is decreasing more and more. As a result, this debt is covered with the existing provisions. By the end of 2014 or in 2015, this negative equity position should have disappeared entirely.
Income in 2013 slightly exceeded budget, partly due to corrections in participants’ reports from previous years which provided nonrecurring additional income. This higher income and intentionally keeping costs low resulted in a budget surplus. Hence, the contribution to the provisions was nearly EUR 2 million which exceeded budgeted amount to a large extent.
LightRec maintains a conservative budget policy. This is because future revenues, bearing the rapidly changing lighting industry in mind, is hard to predict. And given the healthy financial position, LightRec should be able to handle any setbacks that might present themselves.
Brussels has put the bar very high indeed when it comes to collecting electronic waste. The new European directive, which came into force on 14 February 2014, demands that in five years’ time 85 percent of all electronic devices and lights are disposed of and recycled in an ecologically sound manner. This objective does not apply to specific product groups. Nevertheless, it is LightRec’s ambition to realise these objectives for lighting as well. LightRec’s ultimate purpose is to close the resource chain for lighting products.