Profiles, Waste Management In Action

Lighting recycling made easy

As Australia’s largest and only mercury recycler, CMA Ecocycle works with clients to reduce hazardous lighting waste going to landfill. 

Lighting makes up a significant amount of Australia’s waste, but many people are unaware of where it ends up after disposal. Waste fluorescent lighting contains mercury and is therefore considered hazardous waste. As a result, it must be kept out of general waste and disposed of safely.

The safest way to dispose of mercury is to send it for recycling and one company appears to be leading the charge in this area.

CMA Ecocycle says it is the only Australian organisation fully licensed by the Environmental Protection Agencies when it comes to handling the entire process of recycling mercury containing waste. It adds that it is the largest and only mercury recycler in Australia.

The company doesn’t just focus on recovering mercury from lighting waste but also ensures glass, aluminium, other metals from lighting ballasts, troffers and fittings are also recycled into new products, reducing the nation’s overall lighting waste.

The company estimates that millions of lamps are discarded each year, and if not recycled correctly make up the largest source of mercury going to Australian landfill.

Many types of lighting can be recycled, including fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamps and sodium vapour and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps – each of which contain toxic mercury metal.

CMA Ecocycle General Manager Nick Dodd explains the process of lamp recycling begins with separating and isolating the components of waste fluorescent tubes and HID lamps.

“A state-of-the-art lighting waste processing plant separates the components extracting the aluminium and other metals, plastics, glass and phosphor powder. The phosphor powder is then fed into a mercury distiller which safely recovers the mercury. All the other material streams are then recycled into other products.”

As a major end of life recycling company, CMA Ecocycle has focused its efforts on educating the community so that wherever possible, no lighting is landfilled.

Key to its success is simplifying the logistics and Nick says this allows Australia to become a leader in diverting lighting waste from landfill.

To read more, see page 48 of Issue 12.

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