4.11 Fluorescent lamps containing mercury

Lighting equipment is considered a sub type of Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) according to the Waste Categorisation System. Whilst WEEE or eWaste is considered as a waste stream within this strategy, due to the nature of the industry and consideration of the existing IndWMP, lighting equipment is considered separately. The use of Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) is a growing trend in South Africa due to their energy efficiency, which is an important consideration in a country which is experiencing mounting energy prices and shortages. However, CFLs are regarded as hazardous due to their mercury content and must be managed appropriately.

Currently there are no facilities to collect and manage CFLs separately and they are disposed of with domestic waste. In terms of implementing the waste hierarchy, the immediate focus for this waste stream is on preventing the unsafe and environmentally harmful disposal of CFLs.

Standards for the handling and recycling of CFLs are to be developed in support of the IndWMP to ensure safe and environmentally sound handling, recycling and disposal. These will be developed as part of the development of norms and standards for the storage, treatment and disposal of waste to be developed in terms of section 7(1)(c) of the Waste Act.

It is recommended that the IndWMP being produced includes the formalization of informal recycling practices within the sector and a take-back scheme for mercury containing lamps be produced by the industry.

Where feasible, synergies between lighting initiatives and other eWaste initiatives should be sought in order to streamline activities.