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The Environment

Energy Saving Bulbs and the Environment

It is universally agreed that energy saving light bulbs are good for the environment. Not only do they save significant quantities of electricity but they last much longer and therefore do not result in the high levels of landfill associated with incandescent bulbs. CFL bulbs are around four times as efficient as incandescent light bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Therefore a 20 Watt CFL will offer the same amount of light as a 100 Watt incandescent bulb and will last for around five years. Using an 18 Watt CFL in place of a 75 Watt standard light bulb will save over 500 kWh over its lifetime offering savings of around £25 - far in excess of the initial cost of the CFL - and will prevent half a ton of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere by power stations.
The environmental case for LEDs is even more outstanding. LEDs are not only mercury free, so they don't contain any hazardous waste, but they're also 300% more energy efficient than fluorescent lights and about 1000% more efficient than incandescent lights. In a study by The Department of Energy in the US have estimated that LED Bulbs could reduce their national energy consumption for lighting by 29% by 2025. That would save households £80 billion on their electric bills and would have a significant positive impact on our global warming, energy and emissions initiatives.

Greenpeace Say Change them Right Now... don't even wait for them to blow!!

Incandescent bulbs are going to end up in landfill anyway, so the question is: do you put them in the bin now or later? If you continue to use them until they break, they'll still be using 80 per cent more electricity compared to CFLs. If you throw them away now, the energy and materials used in their production will be wasted but that will eventually be outweighed by the amount of energy saved from using CFLs. On balance, the best thing you can do is to change your light bulbs now - the energy saved is more significant than keeping those incandescents out of landfill for a few more months.

Recycling and Safety

Incandescent bulbs have no hazardous waste so they can be placed in landfill sites, but it is important to recycle CFL's as they do contain small quantities of mercury and other hazardous waste. Although lighting manufacturers have greatly reduced the amount of mercury used in lighting over the past 20 years, they are not yet able to completely eliminate the need for mercury. While mercury-containing bulbs contain small amounts of mercury (an average of 5 milligrams or about 1/100th of the amount of mercury found in a mercury fever thermometer), they are one of numerous sources that collectively impact the environment during disposal.

Does the mercury pose a risk?

The mercury cannot escape from an intact lamp and, even if the lamp should be broken, the very small amount of mercury contained in a single, modern CFL is most unlikely to cause any harm. But it makes sense to avoid unnecessary contact with mercury; and any light bulb, broken or intact, should be dealt with sensibly.

How should I deal with a broken CFL?

Although the accidental breakage of a lamp is most unlikely to cause any health problems, it is good practice to minimise any unnecessary exposure to mercury, as well as risk of cuts from glass fragments.
Revised advice issued by the Health Protection Agency is to:

  • Ventilate the room
  • Wipe the area with a damp cloth, place that in the plastic bag and seal it
  • Sticky tape (e.g. duct tape or similar) can be used to pick up small residual pieces or powder from soft furnishings and then placed in a sealed plastic bag. The plastic bag doesn't need to be air tight, but should be reasonably sturdy.
  • Place it in another, similar bag and seal that one as well (this minimises cuts from broken glass).
The public should contact the local authority for advice on where to dispose of broken or intact CFLs as they should be treated as hazardous waste and should not be disposed of in the bin. All local councils have an obligation to make arrangements for the disposal of household hazardous waste at a civic amenity site or household waste recycling centre. The National Household Hazardous Waste Forum runs a website with details of these centres for chemicals, but which also applies to other hazardous wastes ( Alternatively contact your local council direct.

How should I recycle my Light Bulbs ?

Saving Light Bulbs are committed to improving our environment and also regulated by the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive which is now UK law. see WEEE regulations page
CFL's should not be disposed of in landfill but through a recycling centre. Local authorities have these centres but if you are unsure of where yours is then you can find local recycling centre for Gas Discharge Lamps by visiting and then selecting "household" then "light bulbs" and the ticking "Gas Discharge Lamps" and entering your post code. LED lights contain absolutely no mercury or toxic chemicals, and conventional LEDs are made from a variety of inorganic semiconductor materials so recycling is easier. Please contact your local recycling centre for details.
When you purchase CFL's through us we would be glad to take back the CFL you are replacing. Please contact us for hand back details.


The RoHS regulations ( Restriction of Hazardous Substances) concerns itself with controling the levels of hazardous substances used in the manufacture of electrical and electronic equipment. Working in partnership with the policy lead at the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), NMO is the UK Enforcement Authority for the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2008 (the 'RoHS Regulations'). These Regulations implement EU Directive 2002/95 which bans the placing on the EU market of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than agreed levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants.

All products sold by Saving Light Bulbs have been tested to ensure compliance to RoHS.