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Recolight tackles rare earths shortfall

Recycling compliance scheme Recolight has started redistributing residue phosphor powders extracted from gas discharge lamps in order to increase the supply of valuable elements to the lighting industry.

Recolight said phosphor powders include rare earth elements such as europium, terbium and yttrium, which have been in short supply over recent years.

The powders were being stockpiled instead of being sent to landfill. Recolight will now make the powders available to producer members who can extract the rare earth elements in a move the company claimed put it “at the vanguard of the circular economy”.

Operations manager Alex Hawkins said: “We collect the powder from our contracted treatment plants and store the powder in drums, at appropriately licensed facilities.

“Prior to this, and after extraction of the mercury through distillation, the phosphor powder would normally be sent to landfill as it is the only fraction that cannot be sent for further processing or recycling.”

Recolight chief executive Nigel Harvey said: “Over 95% of all rare earths originate from China. The supply of raw materials, particularly of rare earths, has been a cause of concern for the lighting industry.

“Making the recovered phosphor powders available to Recolight members is helping to reduce those concerns.”

Recovery rates for gas discharge lamps exceed 90% in the UK.

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