Recycling CFLs: yeah, right!


In another thread discussing CFLs and their disposal, someone posted a link to what seems to be the more-or-less "official" fluorescent-lamp recycling site: http://www.lamprecycle.org .
Interesting site. But if one delves a little into the site--say on the page describing lamp recyclers (http://www.lamprecycle.org/lamprecyclers.shtml )--one reads this:
NEMA maintains these lists of companies in the United States and Canada that either claim to recycle spent mercury-containing lamps or claim to handle those lamps so that they end up at a recycling facility. Recyclers are companies that claim to conform to the RCRA 40 CFR 273.6 definition of a "Destination facility" and operate under a state permit or RCRA-equivalent authority to perform lamp recycling. Handlers are either generators or third party firms that claim to collect lamps and get them to recyclers.
Doesn't exactly inspire confidence that the bulbs you drop off at the collection bin at the big-box store will actually get recycled, does it?
How do you know that those lamps won't just get shitcanned (i.e., landfilled?) What kind of oversight is there over this whole recycling scheme? Is this just more "greenwashing", meant to give consumers warm fuzzy feelings that they're helping to "save the Earth" while, in reality, doing nothing of the kind? What sort of watchdog is observing the whole deal?
"Claim[s] to recycle"; that's the best we can come up with?
We're doomed.
--
Found--the gene that causes belief in genetic determinism

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Not sure what the BFD is.
The amount of mercury in a CFL is very small. The EPA "encourages" recycling them.
http://www.epa.gov/osw/hazard/wastetypes/universal/lamps/faqs.htm#6
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On 8/29/2009 12:07 PM Master Betty spake thus:

>

Well, that's the other thing that bugs me about that website (lamprecycle.org): all they talk about is the recovery of mercury from CFLs. Nothing about the rest of the bulb. What happens to all that glass, aluminum, plastic, phenolic, copper, tin, tantalum, etc.? Even if one is not unduly concerned about the toxicity of those things (and that toxicity is definitely non-zero), it's kind of outrageous from a resource recovery point of view--especially since consumers are led to believe that the bulbs really are being recycled, and not just thrown away (even if that's done in a manner that keeps us safe from mercury poisining).
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On Sat, 29 Aug 2009 13:10:32 -0700, David Nebenzahl
...

    That is a good question, but not the sugject of this thread. I would guess they get put in the same place as used standard tungston lamps. Not perfect, but not really a factor being addressed at this time, unless you are suggesting going back to candles that cause more pollution.
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On 8/29/2009 1:39 PM snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com spake thus:

That's the subject of this thread as I envisioned it.
The question is, what happens to CFLs (and other fluorescent lamps) when the consumer takes them to someplace that claims to recycle them? I think the assumption here on the part of the consumer is that the material in the lamp will actually be reclaimed and reused (to the extent practical, of course). But it appears that, except for extracting the mercury, the rest of the lamp could well just get landfilled without anybody knowing.
I don't call that recycling.

That's the landfill.
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wrote:

I understand that. But with all there is to worry about......
BTW....I recycle everything possible. I take my cfls to hd, but only if I'm going.
I have some florescent tubes in my garage I'm saving until I can figer what to do wif em.
Seems more people are making an effort these days. I still don't give us much hope.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

I've 'shitcanned' as you say, thousands of straight fluorescent tubes and i'd bet that before i'm over, i will have 'shitcanned' a few hundred CFL's. I can't believe someone or some group make such a big deal out of this. DAMN, people, just live life, don't make it an ordeal.
s
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On 8/29/2009 5:01 PM Steve Barker spake thus:

So Don (Klipstein): how much mercury has this guy released into the environment, based on the numbers of tubes/bulbs he gave?
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Mercury is naturally occurring, so it comes from the environment....
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Probably not as much as we lost in science class back in the '60's when we played with it on the table.
s
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A wall thermostat might equal 1000 cfls, have you ever thrown away one? Airborn mercury is what has made our fish toxic on inland waterways in the US, coal burning does that. over the life of burning a cfl you keep about 2.5x the mercury from entering the envirionment as a cfl has from burning coal. Nuclear plants dont emit this poison thats airborn, cfls-flourescents are buried, this discussion and worry of cfls is narrow minded. The dumps these theing go to have untold more serious unknown dangers than cfls. If you were worried about mercury you would be looking to change the real cause of it, coal burning. Nuclear, Solar, Wind are the only remedies. You Neb, hate nuclear, but coal is the real problem you fail to comprehend. Buy cfls they are better for all.
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Steve Barker wrote:

In his (small) book, "The True Beliver," which I encourage you to read, Eric Hoffer observed: "People mind their own business when it is worth minding. When it's not, they take their mind off their own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business."
Though writtnen in 1950 or so, Hoffer's book explains mass movements and the people who gravitate toward them. It has helped me tremendously in understanding the motivations behind the agitators.
From Wikipedia:
"Hoffer argues that mass movements ... spread by promising a glorious future. To be successful, these mass movements need the adherents to be willing to sacrifice themselves and others for the future goals. To do so, mass movements need to devalue both the past and the present. Mass movements appeal to frustrated people who are dissatisfied with their current state, but are capable of a strong belief in the future. As well, mass movements appeal to people who want to escape a flawed self by creating an imaginary self and joining a collective whole. Some categories of people who may be attracted to mass movements include poor people, misfits, and people who feel thwarted in their endeavors."
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There is more mercury released when burning coal to produce electricity than probably released when the CFLs which use electricity are disposed of. I believe the overall savings is less mercury released overall
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HeyBub wrote:

sounds like an interesting read. I may check it out from the library.
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Steve Barker wrote:

It's a small book, but you can't read it quickly. Seemingly, after each paragraph you have to put the book down, stroke your chin, and say to yourself - "Yeah, that's right."
Examples:
"The membership in mass movements is interchangeable and over-lapping. People join mass movements at random and then adopt the goals of the movement."
"A mass movement can exist without a god, but it will always fail without a devil. Mass movements must have something to hate."
"People join mass movements to escape individual responsibility. By participating in a mass movement, they are no longer responsible for their individual actions."
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