adopts lamp producer responsibility law
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into
law a bill requiring manufacturers of mercury-containing lamps
to establish and finance a recycling program for spent bulbs
from residents and small businesses. Vermont became the third
state in the country to establish such an extended producer responsibility
The Governor said the new law is an important environmental measure,
key in helping protect Vermont’s waterways and natural environment
from the problems associated with mercury pollution. Under the
new law, recycling costs will be paid by the manufacturer, consistent
with other product stewardship legislation enacted in Vermont
and around the country.
Mercury-containing lamps, such as compact fluorescent bulbs,
have significant benefits in terms of energy efficiency and cost-savings.
However, these bulbs also contain small amounts of mercury –
a known neurotoxin – which makes proper recycling of the lamps
Along with earlier laws passed in Maine and Washington, the approach
taken in Vermont provides a financially sustainable means of
preventing the release of mercury into the environment by recycling
lamps and keeping them out of landfills and incinerators. This
industry funded approach will be increasingly important as state
and local agencies around the country face growing budget cuts,
while anticipating increased use of CFLs under new federal lighting
efficiency standards, scheduled to take effect in 2012.
There are more than 60 state producer responsibility laws around
the country that require product manufacturers to provide for
the collection and recycling of electronics, mercury thermostats,
mercury auto switches, and other products that cause unintended
environmental impacts if not properly managed. Additionally,
like Vermont’s new law, laws requiring mercury content standards
have been adopted in California and Maine, modeled after new
standards recently adopted by the European Union.