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Makers of CFL bulbs told to take back used ones.

THE DELHI government wants compact fluorescent lamp ( CFL) manufacturers to take back all used lamps dumped across the city, exposing residents to toxic mercury vapours.

Environment officials have identified four agencies in Delhi, which can facilitate safe disposal and CFL manufacturers are now working on a pilot project to collect used lamps, especially from households.

Environment secretary Dharmendra Kumar said consultations are progressing well with the Electric Lamp and Component Manufacturers' Association of India ( ELCOMA), a group of at least 25 CFL manufacturers, including Philips, GE Lighting and Bajaj Electricals.

" We have identified two CFL recycling plants in Roorkee and Manesar. We are trying to find ways to ensure residents return used bulbs. One way could be offering them incentives," Kumar said.

A senior ELCOMA official said they have finalised appointing Europebased consultants Grant Thornton and The Energy and Resources Institute of Delhi to work out a plan to execute the project.

CFL lamps consume lesser electricity than normal bulbs and Delhi government has aggressively promoted its use in the last three years by offering special schemes.

But experts have warned that the use of CFL that has grown by nearly 40 per cent in the last three years in India is potentially risky as it contains mercury, which evaporates once the lamps are broken after use.

Mercury vapours can damage the nervous system and interfere with the development of children and unborn foetuses apart from triggering brain, kidney and liver damages in adults.

The most difficult part in safe disposal of CFLs is to ensure that residents return used lamps without breaking them, said a senior ELCOMA official.

" Countries that have attempted such schemes could manage to collect hardly a fifth of the lamps that were sold. We know it's hard, but it's achievable," said the official.

A senior environment official said they have proposed that CFL manufacturers offer discounts of up to three per cent to consumers who return old lamps when they purchase a new one.

" It reduces manufacturers' profit slightly. But in the longer run it's in their interest since health issues attached to CFLs could spoil their business," said an environment official.

" The report will be prepared on the national level but we will first implement it as a pilot project in the Capital," he said.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jan 15, 2010
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