February 12, 2007

Pilot project will recover, recycle mercury-containing fluorescent lamps from Toronto schools.

The Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) and Toronto District School Board (TDSB) have launched a pioneering environmental stewardship project to recover and recycle fluorescent tube lighting from TDSB schools in order to keep more mercury out of landfills.

Program organizers expect to recover 48,000 lamps from 600 buildings in six months, recovering at least 557 grams (over half a kilogram) of mercury.

The pilot is based on a unique arrangement involving all parties associated with fluorescent lamps, from producer to distributor to user and finally to recycler. As suppliers of fluorescent lamps to the TDSB, manufacturer Osram-Sylvania and distributor Wolf Electric and Lighting worked with the RCO to develop a reverse distribution system for spent lamps. The system will ensure that the companies share the financial costs of recovery and recycling.

Under this arrangement, spent fluorescent lamps recovered from each school will be transported to Fluorescent Lamp Recyclers (FLR) in Ayr, Ontario for recycling. The pickup of spent lamps will coincide with the delivery of new lamps by Wolf Electric and Lighting. Once FLR receives the spent lamps, the company will ensure that 98% by weight of each lamp is recycled back into useful products.

Some 30 million fluorescent lamps are sold in Ontario annually; they contain a total of 8.8 million kilograms of glass, 110,000 kg of metals, 140,000 kg of phosphor and almost one tonne of mercury. Over 90% of these lamps currently end up in the waste stream, says the RCO.

More information is available on the RCO Web site, www.rco.on.ca.

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