High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps contain a small amount of toxic mercury. If disposed of in landfill this mercury may cause environmental contamination. Instead HID lamps should be recycled to recover mercury and other valuable resources for use in new products.
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High Intensity Discharge or HID lamps are typically used in gyms, indoor sports areas and for street lighting. Unlike traditional globes (including halogens) they do not use a filament that heats up and glow and are subsequently much more efficient lighting devices with a long lifespan. However HID lamps, such as those used in typical street lighting contain between 50 and 1000 milligrams (mg) of mercury, which if sent to landfill can contaminate the environment and water systems. Unfortunately in Australia, an estimated 95 per cent of lamps that contain mercury end up in landfill each year. Instead HID lamps should be recycled to recover the mercury as well as other valuable resources such as glass and aluminum.
FluoroCycle is a voluntary partnership between government and industry to increase the recycling of mercury-containing lamps. The program was established in 2009 by The Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) and is administered by the Lighting Council Australia. FluoroCycle targets commercial and public lighting which accounts for approximately 90 per cent of all lighting waste. Operations began in July 2010.
A number of commercial recycling companies provide recycling services for mercury containing bulbs, including HID lamps. This is generally provided through a collection box for used globes, together with a collection service.
Several states have chemical collection programs and/or drop-off points that accept domestic quantities of mercury containing lamps for recycling from small businesses. Please check with your local council to determine the types and quantities of lamps accepted for recycling at collection points near you.
What Happens When It's Recycled?
HID's are recycled using crush and separation technology. Mercury is distilled and then reused in the manufacture of dental amalgams. Aluminium from the tube ends is separated and recycled into cast products such as metal ingots. Glass is separated and recycled into glass wool used for home insulation. Any materials not recycled are transported to landfill for safe disposal. The end result is that hazardous, discarded products are transformed into clean, environmentally sound by-products.
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