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Lamp recycling costs rise after changes to WEEE regulations

Recent category changes to WEEE lighting regulations could lead to higher costs for recycling, it is claimed.

The warning comes from Lincolnshire-based Balcan Engineering following the 2014 WEEE recast in which LEDs were reclassified into category 13 to bring parity with other streams such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

As a result of the change, CFLs and LEDs are commonly sent to recycling facilities in the same container which now requires an additional sorting process.

Alistair Rinfret, Balcan’s managing director, said that combining the two waste streams was a challenge because certain sections of an LED light are too solid to be processed by crushers used on fluorescent bulbs.

“Putting these through any lamp recycler, will cause a blockage as a minimum and potentially expensive damage,” he said. “Very few companies are going to differentiate between a CFL or an LED, so it will be up to the recycler to sort them or risk damaging their system.”

Another issue was that CFLs, unlike LEDs, are classed as a hazardous waste stream so that, by mixing both types, the entire container would be considered hazardous and would have to be dealt with accordingly.

Rinfret said compliance schemes faced two unsatisfactory solutions: “They will have to accept increased costs, either from the lamp recycler, or by having to supply an additional container.

“In reality the separate container will be expensive and still won’t solve that problem, as other types of lamps will be mixed with the LED.”

He also said the latest generation of LEDs do not have an aluminium heat sink which makes them considerably less valuable than earlier models.

The Department for Business said the reason for the change was to ensure there is not an orphan waste stream of GDLs.

“An orphan waste stream is where waste is arising but there are no equivalent items placed on the market. In this situation there would be no producers to finance the waste arising. The reason for putting all lamps in Cat 13 was that there are producers financing the arisings,” it added.

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