Maine passes law requiring bulb
makers pay for recycling
With nearly unanimous support,
the Maine Legislature passed
new, first-in-the-nation, legislation
to reduce mercury pollution
by requiring compact fluorescent
light bulb manufacturers to
share the costs and responsibility
for recycling their mercury-containing
bulbs. Similar bills are now
pending in Massachusetts and
“Maine has once again demonstrated
national leadership to prevent
toxic pollution,” said Matt
Prindiville, Clean Production
project director for Natural
Resources Council of Maine.
“Mercury-containing bulbs need
to be recycled, and this bill
ensures ongoing funding for
a collection program that works
well for consumers and our environment.”
This law puts the responsibilities
for bulb recycling into the
hands of the private sector.
It has producers, not taxpayers,
pay for the collection and recycling
of bulb, with lamp makers having
an incentive to manage costs
in the most efficient way.
The law sets a standard to limit
the mercury content of all lighting,
lowering mercury use and hazards
to workers and the environment.
It also improves the state’s
procurement policy to purchase
fluorescent lighting with low
mercury content while maximizing
energy efficiency and lamp life.
Retailers may choose to serve
as collection centers and inform
customers and the State provides
oversight and informs citizens
about the recycling program.
Like Maine’s prior laws on thermostats
and auto switches, the new law
provides a model that other
states can follow to reduce
Compact fluorescent light bulbs
are an important part of efforts
to reduce energy costs, say
environmentalists. Just one
CFL can save $30 to $100 on
reduced energy costs over its
lifetime, but they contain mercury
and therefore should not be
thrown in the trash.