Ontario pioneers fluorescent recycling

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Each year, Ontario businesses, factories and institutions throw out 30 million fluorescent tubes, but now greener solution exists for those mercury-laden lights than the landfill.

Take Back the Light is North America's first comprehensive fluorescent tube recycling program for the industrial, commercial and institutional sector, said Jo-Anne St. Godard, executive director of the Recycling Council of Ontario.

The banning of incandescent light bulbs as of 2012, which will drive consumers to compact fluorescents, has focused attention on how to safely dispose of such lights.

But right now, the bulk of the mercury in lights is found in the long fluorescent tubes found in offices and factories and that's the focus of this program, St. Godard said.

The initial goal of the program, run by the council, is to recycle 10 million fluorescent tubes by 2012.

The province, which is a partner in the program, will contribute 1 million lights a year, by the fourth year, from its 3,500 provincially owned and operated buildings.

"Government has a key role to play by cleaning up our own house and by setting the example for industry and the general public," Environment Minister John Gerretsen said.

Most fluorescent tube lights are not being recycled, which leaves the potential for the mercury in them to seep into Ontario's air, water and soil, St. Godard said.

The province plans to include compact fluorescents in the second phase of its hazardous waste recycling program, which is at least a year away.


in Year