A Single Energy-saving Lamp Is Polluting 180 Tons Of Water

- Sep 13, 2019-

Concentrated scrapping


With the rapid development of the economy, the speed of electronic waste generated in China in recent years is very alarming. According to a report released by the United Nations Environment Program in 2010, China has become the world's second largest e-waste producer, producing more than 2.3 million tons of e-waste per year, second only to the US 3 million tons; by 2020, China's used computers will be Doubled to double in 2007, the number of discarded mobile phones will increase sevenfold. In the process of recycling and comprehensive utilization of electronic waste, there are different degrees of pollution of the environment and damage to human health, which needs urgent attention.


As the country promotes the "green lighting" project, hundreds of millions of old energy-saving lamps listed in China's first batch of financial subsidies are entering a centralized retirement period, and the annual consumption will exceed 1 billion. Because the old energy-saving lamps contain toxic and harmful elements such as mercury and lead, they are called “the source of mercury pollution”, the second largest domestic waste after the waste battery. In contrast, China’s energy-saving lamp recycling system is very “naive”. If improperly disposed, the risk of pollution cannot be ignored.


Centralized threatening environment


In 2008, the state launched the “Green Lighting” project. The urban and rural residents purchase and use the energy-saving lamps of the winning enterprises by 50% of the financial subsidies, and 30% of the purchase subsidies for large enterprises such as enterprises and institutions. In addition, it also donated to the remote mountainous area through the implementation of the “Guangmingxing” Public Welfare Project.


The promotion of energy-saving lamps across China in this context is very rapid. For example, in Changsha City, Hunan Province, from 2008 to 2011, a total of 3.6 million high-efficiency lighting energy-saving lamps were promoted, of which 1.61 million were promoted in 2011, 2.3 times for the Hunan Provincial Development and Reform Commission.


Experts said that considering that the service life of the first batch of energy-saving lamps listed was generally three years, it was judged that the hundreds of millions of energy-saving lamps listed in the first batch of financial subsidies were entering the centralized retirement period.


Wu Defeng, director of Changsha City's two-type office, told reporters that energy-saving lamps are 80% more energy-efficient than ordinary incandescent lamps. The city promoted 3.6 million energy-saving lamps, saving about 179 million kWh annually and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 171,000 tons. According to the comprehensive work plan for energy conservation and emission reduction issued by the State Council, the national “green lighting” project has promoted 150 million high-efficiency lighting products nationwide through financial subsidies, saving 29 billion kWh of electricity per year and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2,900. 10,000 tons, sulfur dioxide 290,000 tons.


In Changsha, Beijing and other places such as Wal-Mart, Carrefour and other supermarkets, energy-saving lamps are dazzling. In some international branded boxes, there are instructions that are folded into small squares. On the back or corner of this piece of paper, a table of toxic and hazardous substances and elements is attached, indicating that there are toxic and harmful elements such as lead, mercury and polybrominated biphenyls in different parts of the energy-saving lamp capillary, lamp holder, ballast and plastic parts. According to the "Limited Requirements for Toxic and Hazardous Substances in Electronic Information Products" issued by the Ministry of Information Industry, lead and mercury in spiral electronic energy-saving lamps, lead in ballasts, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyls in plastic parts. Ether exceeded the standard; while some energy-saving lamps exceeded the standard in the capillary, lamp holder and ballast, and the mercury in the capillary exceeded the standard.


According to the introduction of the comprehensive office of the two types of offices in Changsha, relevant research shows that the waste mercury energy-saving lamps, especially the old-fashioned fluorescent tubes, have an average mercury content of about 0.5 mg, which is only enough to be covered with a ballpoint pen tip. However, if it penetrates into the ground, it is enough to pollute about 180 tons of water and surrounding soil. In addition, after the waste energy-saving lamps are broken, the concentration of mercury in the surrounding air can be seriously exceeded. Once inside the body, it may damage the central nervous system of the person.


Some industry experts believe that with the gradual demise of incandescent lamps, China's annual consumption can reach more than 1 billion. Although technology has continued to advance in recent years, problems such as mercury pollution in energy-saving lamps have been greatly reduced. However, in view of the early production of energy-saving lamps, many products are more prominent because of the backward process technology and mercury pollution.


Lack of recycling channels


Min Min, director of the Department of Environmental Economic Management at the School of Environment, Renmin University of China, said that the promotion of energy-saving lamps has achieved energy conservation and emission reduction, but “it is very energy-efficient to use and has no channels to recover” has become one of the prominent problems of electronic waste today.


The reporter recently visited Beijing, Wuhan and other places and found that whether it is a supermarket or a waste recycling station, the waste energy-saving lamps are "not to be given." A lighting store owner in Beijing said that there were companies that engaged in public welfare recycling, but they were thought to have to renovate and sell the energy-saving lamps. The energy-saving lamp recycling box should be padded with sponges, and transported carefully, and the recycling is purely “losing the money to make a drink”!


A lighting business manager said that in the public activities in some big cities in the central region, it is often impossible to collect a few energy-saving lamps for a long time, and the waste energy-saving lamps mixed in the garbage bins and garbage stations are often seen as ordinary. Domestic garbage is sent to landfills or incinerated. Helpless, the organizers had to warn the residents not to break the old energy-saving lamps, not to play for children, put a plastic bag and throw them.


Shanghai Electronic Waste Trading Center has a set of 1700 tons of imported equipment for recycling waste energy-saving lamps. It is very rare in China. On this type of processing line, the staff wearing protective equipment will send the waste energy-saving lamps into the processing equipment and recover them through crushing and mercury absorption. It is understood that a staff member of the Shanghai Electronic Waste Trading Center is seriously "eat not enough", mainly relying on some organs to send some used lamps.


Need a multi-pronged approach


According to the information provided by Zhou Wei, Secretary General of Changsha Renewable Resources Association, the recycling rate of waste energy-saving lamps in Japan, Europe, America and Taiwan is over 80% compared with China’s “throwing”. Zhou Wei and others went to Taiwan to inspect and saw that "China Electric Appliances Co., Ltd." and its holding company "Zhongtai Resources Technology Co., Ltd." formed a recycling system for manufacturing, selling and recycling waste lighting sources, recycling of mercury, phosphors and glass. The utilization rates are 100%, 60% and 30% respectively. Under the local subsidy project (lighting source) management fund subsidy, the “China Electric” processing community paid the waste lamp production line to maintain normal load operation.


Relevant experts combined with overseas experience, it is recommended to promote the recycling of waste energy-saving lamps in the future:


First, vigorously promote the waste energy-saving lamps can not be "thrown away." Although the energy-saving lamps were included in the National Hazardous Waste List in 2008, the society still only knows the benefits of energy conservation and pollution. To this end, it is necessary to increase publicity efforts to establish a social consensus that energy-saving lamps are strictly prohibited from being discarded and illegally disposed of as "critical waste."


The second is to strengthen the environmental responsibility of producers. At present, China's "limited requirements for toxic and hazardous substances in electronic information products" is not mandatory for industry-recommended standards. For this reason, it is possible to explore the first to establish compulsory industry standards in the field of "hazardous waste" electronic products such as energy-saving lamps. At the same time, manufacturers are required to pay attention to the risk of pollution in advertising, product packaging and sales.


The third is to increase financial intervention. From the experience of some advanced countries and regions, the recycling of waste energy-saving lamps has three channels: sales market, community and private environmental protection organizations. In view of the fragility of energy-saving lamps, low value of resource recycling and high processing costs, the state should include its recycling in the scope of financial support. It is necessary to formulate implementation rules to support communities, enterprises, and environmental protection public welfare organizations to set up fixed collection points; to encourage residents to pay waste lamps for material; to link energy-saving lamps to promote financial subsidies and to establish a recycling mechanism for the winning bidders; Establish a harmless treatment center and provide financial and tax support.