Maine is the first state to pass a law requiring companies that manufacture compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to fund recycling programs. Known as Legislative Directive 973, the law also establishes standards for the amount of mercury present in each bulb.
Similar recycling legislation is currently being reviewed in California, Massachusetts and Vermont, while California already passed a law enforcing mercury content.
CFLs have been endorsed by groups including the EPA and ENERGY STAR for their energy-efficiency and longer life span than incandescent bulbs.
However, the presence of several milligrams of mercury has caused several states to ban them from landfills, which is not an issue with incandescent bulbs.
LD973 will go into effect on Sept. 12, and manufacturers will be required to submit a recycling plan in 2010. Mandatory collection of bulbs will begin in 2011.
Michael Bender, policy project director for the Mercury Policy Project, said in a statement, “Passage of this law sends a clear message out nationally (and globally) that a new day is dawning for total life cycle management and shared responsibility—from ‘the cradle to the grave’ for products containing mercury and other hazardous substances.”
For consumers, it’s unlikely that Maine’s laws will provide any differences on the surface. Nationally, retailers including Home Depot and IKEA already accepted CFL bulbs for recycling, and Maine just completed a pilot-program where consumers could drop off burnt-out bulbs at other locations for free.
Capitalizing on the new legislation, Air Cycle has upgraded the services of its LampRecycling.com site. The company offers recycling reports, certificates and tracking of shipped bulbs so its customers can be in compliance with CFL recycling laws.