Founder of Transition Town Hervey Bay Maggie John would like to see compact fluorescent bulbs disposed of correctly.
Founder of Transition Town Hervey Bay Maggie John would like to see compact fluorescent bulbs disposed of correctly. KARLEILA THOMSEN

Recycle low energy bulbs

LOW ENERGY light bulbs continue to replace their environmentally damaging cousins on store shelves yet the Fraser Coast is ill-prepared to look after their disposal.

Transition Town Hervey Bay founder Maggie John says she asked the Fraser Coast Regional Council 12 months ago to look into how best to dispose of compact fluorescent light bulbs containing mercury but was told there was nothing the council could do. Now that she knows Brisbane company CMA Ecocycle is willing to collect them in large volumes she wants the council to go back to the drawing board.

Councillor Sue Brooks says the council has previously investigated the issue and she hopes it can again look into the best way to manage the bulbs when it reviews waste services in the future.

“Recycling is not catered for in the existing council collection service and sorting facility owing to the specialist and expensive processing equipment required for safe material recovery,” Ms Brooks said.

“There are private service providers that offer specific recovery programs for recycling however it would appear the major hurdle to widespread adoption of this practice is individuals’ willingness to separate globes and take them to a collection point.”

Ms Brooks suggests asking a large electricity company such as Ergon to sponsor a recycling program: “Maybe a twice-a-year collection could be instigated and sponsorship provided to offset the cost of transporting the globes to the recycling facility.”

Ms John, however, believes the council should set up a drop-off point for the bulbs where they can be collected by a company like CMA Ecocycle: “Surely it wouldn’t take up that much space to hold one. There’s no reason why we couldn’t have it at the recycling centre.”

CMA Ecocycle state manager Chris Askew said putting CFLs in a normal waste bin was not environmentally friendly because they smashed easily and leaked mercury into the ground and water.

Mr Askew said the company recycled the entire bulb, with the mercury going to dental clinics and the phosphor powder going into fertiliser.



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