68   Fluorescent tubes and bulbs

Fluorescent tubes and other discharge lamps 
can no longer be placed in a skip with other rubbish.   
If one of these lamps is mixed with other waste, 
the entire load is classified as hazardous waste.

New era in managing hazardous waste

On 16 July 2005, new Hazardous Waste Regulations (and Waste Acceptance Criteria, or WAC) came into force in England and Wales with far-reaching effects.  These require most producers of hazardous waste to have registered with the Environment Agency (EA) by 16 July, otherwise they will have committed an offence.  Some premises are exempt (section 23 of the regulations) such as offices, shops, agricultural, dental, veterinary and medical practices as long as they produce less than 200kg of hazardous waste a year. 

Manufacturers must register with the EA regardless of the quantity produced, before they or a contractor can legally move any hazardous waste off site.  Pre-notification of movement is not required.

Producers must be able to describe exactly what their waste contains: this will determine what can be done to minimise it, ease its recovery or ensure its safe disposal. This brings the definition of hazardous waste in line with the EC Hazardous Waste Directive, adding 200 waste types (including fluorescent tubes, computer monitors and pesticides) to the hazardous waste list, which already included such wastes as oil, and lead batteries.  Source: www.edie.net , Resource Recovery Forum and Environment Agency - for full text, email news@lcrn.org.uk  

A hazardous waste website has been set up to offer advice - www.hazardouswaste.org.uk 


Fly-tipping is illegal, unsociable and unnecessary - don't even think about it.

There is a charge for every load of hazardous waste you take to landfill
BUT the organisations below may want to use your hazardous waste, 
or they could direct you to someone who does.

If you know someone who may be fly-tipping, PLEASE put them in touch with someone listed in THE WASTEBOOK who can help them.


Around 100 million fluorescent tubes are sold and thrown away every year in the UK (source: Mercury Recycling).  This results in about 20,000 tonnes of glass and 3 tonnes of mercury, which is highly toxic, being disposed of in landfill sites.  This is a cause for concern, and the landfill option is being actively discouraged.

Until recently, the percentage recycled was very low.  However, new regulations designate them as Hazardous Waste, aiming to reduce dramatically the quantities landfilled by requiring audit trails and increasing the cost of transport and landfill.   The European WEEE directive also includes the recycling of fluorescent tubes and other spent lamps as part of its aims to recycle electrical and electronic components.

Recycling facilities can now deal with fluorescent tubes; many waste management companies have schemes which enable customers to have them recycled.  All fluorescent tubes should be stored carefully to avoid breakage.  Used sodium lamps are a potential fire hazard until disposed of correctly.  All types of lamp including energy saving lamps, sodium, mercury and metal halide can now be recycled in a similar process, recovering up to 99% of the constituent materials.

Fluorescent lighting contains toxic materials such as mercury, cadmium (a known carcinogen) and lead, which if not recycled, enter the atmosphere or sensitive watercourses.  The Lighting Industry Federation states that only 0.3% of mercury entering the environment comes directly from fluorescent tubes and bulbs.  But it is estimated that a single fluorescent tube contains enough mercury to pollute 30,000 litres of water.  Mercury poisoning is particularly dangerous as it can cause a variety of ailments ranging from tunnel vision to inducing a coma, while cadmium and lead have the potential to damage vital organs such as the liver and brain.

Potential recoverable each year in UK from lamp recycling: glass 12,000 tonnes; Metal 670 tonnes; plastic 350 tonnes; phosphor 100 tonnes; mercury 0.5 tonnes (source: Sustainalite)

It is untrue that fluorescent lights should be left on to save energy; encourage everyone to switch off lights when not in use, and take care that all light fittings are kept free of dust.  Use of natural light can be maximised in many buildings.

Also see

Paper and office consumables (30)
Glass (55)
Shop and office furnishings
Computers and electronic goods (87)
Recycling collections (private) (150)

Alphabetical list of organisations

Balcan Engineering
Tel 01507 528500  Fax 01507 528528 
Website www.balcan.co.uk  Email info@balcan.co.uk 
Banovallum Court, Boston Road Industrial Estate, HORNCASTLE, Lincs LN96JR

Lamp recycling service for fluorescent tubes and all other types of waste lamp - whole or pre-crushed.   National coverage.  Lamp recycling plant produces some of the cleanest glass available from lamp recycling, and has markets for all by-products.  Offers clients several options for waste lamps, including lamp crushers, on-site lamp disposal & lamp recycling (Sustainalite accredited); also storage containers for fluorescent tubes and other types of waste lamp.  Developer and producer of 8 types of lamp crusher.  
The process: 
Once crushed, lamp debris is fed into an agitator unit that loosens the mercury-bearing phosphor powder, adhering to the glass. The mercury bearing dusty air generated inside the unit is continually drawn off - a filter collects the powder. Air is further cleaned by another large, sophisticated filter, which removes the last traces of mercury vapour and other impurities before it is released as clean air.  Cleaned, recycled glass debris discharged from the agitator unit is separated into glass and metal/aluminum, by a powerful magnet, then collected into containers for distribution to suitable markets.  Phosphor powder, containing the mercury element of gas discharge lamps, is stored in drums before dispatch to a company specialising in recovering and recycling mercury, and handle it in quantity.  Also crushing and destruction of hypodermic needles, syringes and vials - more detail in section 83.  (Updated Aug 2005)

Biffa Waste Services  

Freephone 0800 307307  Tel 01494 521221 / 08000 858286  Fax 01494 463368
Website www.biffa.co.uk  Email recycling@biffa.co.uk  
Coronation Road, Cressex Industrial Estate, HIGH WYCOMBE, Bucks HP12 3TZ

Major waste collection and handling company, committed to promotion of waste reduction, reuse and increasing recycling.   Handles about 10% of UK's waste.  Operates over 140 sites, and tries to manage them to conserve and enhance biodiversity.  Biffa has developed treatment processes for organic and inorganic aqueous waste, clinical wastes, on-site treatment technologies, emergency spillage clean up services, sewer surveying, water jetting, industrial services, and drainage system support services. Backtrack nationwide collection service for small quantities of hazardous wastes such as fluorescent tubes (recycled in Manchester by Mercury Recycling), sodium lamps, asbestos, aerosols, lead acid batteries, oil and fuel filters, contaminated rags, antifreeze, brake fluids.  Environmental audits and recommendations.  Waste streams collected for recycling include: oil, organic and garden waste, batteries, fluorescent lamps, toner cartridges, electrical equipment, paint, special and chemical waste, paper and card.  Diverted over 600,000 tonnes of waste from landfill for recycling in 2000.  National cardboard recycling scheme operated jointly with SCA Recycling from 58 collection centres in England and Wales.  Container sizes and collection schedules to suit all types of customer, including small users prepared to separate cardboard from general waste; provides typical disposal cost savings of about 20%.  Several publications.  Has a respected landfill tax credit scheme, Biffaward.  Hazpack and Backtrack services for packaged waste. Runs Biffpack, a leading waste packaging compliance scheme.   (Updated Oct 2004)

BFI Waste Systems Ltd

Tel 01753 662700 Fax 01753 662464
The Pickeridge, Stoke Common Road, FULMER, Bucks SL3 6HA

Collect fluorescent tubes for recycling in Manchester by Mercury Recycling Ltd.  Integrated company operating throughout England and Wales via network of 44 sites.  Policy of actively encouraging waste minimisation and recycling via various reporting systems providing analysis and monitoring of waste streams.  Collection and disposal of commercial, domestic and industrial wastes; special liquid and solid waste disposal; domestic refuse and household waste collection; gully cleaning and street sweeping; community recycling (MRFs); landfills in Yorkshire, Midlands and south of England.  ESA member.  

Bywaters (Leyton) Ltd

Tel 0208 558 1141 Fax 0208 558 9109 / 0208 558 9205
Auckland Road, Leyton, LONDON E10 5NB

General waste disposal services. Collection and disposal of difficult, hazardous and notifiable wastes. Crushing of spent fluorescent tubes. CFC reclamation from refrigeration equipment. ESA member.

Cleanaway Ltd
Tel 0151 537 3377 Fax 0151 355 3656
Chemical Waste Office, Bridges Road, Ellesmere Port, South Wirral, CHESHIRE L65 4EQ

National collection, treatment, recycling and disposal of automotive liquid and solid wastes. 'Ecoservice' provides specialist handling of waste such as electronic equipment, fluorescent tubes, hydraulic fluids, mercury, paint, non-clinical pharmaceuticals, photographic and port wastes.

Greencare Ltd

Tel 01453 511366 Fax 01453 511714
Greencare House, SHARPNESS, Glos GL13 9UD

Free collection of all office technical waste, including all types of printer and photocopier cartridge, ribbon and cassette. Weekly or monthly as required by network of franchisees who provide free collection containers. Where reuse is not possible, plastic (eg ribbons) is supplied to granulators for recycling. Sale of reconditioned supplies. Freephone number. Collect fluorescent tubes for recycling in Manchester by Mercury Recycling Ltd.

Greener World Ltd
Tel 0208 571 0100  Fax 0208 843 0500
Email enquiries@greenerworld.com  Website www.greenerworld.com 
Suite 005, Charles House, Bridge Street, SOUTHALL, Middx UB2 4BD

Collects fluorescent tubes and bulbs, electrical equipment, and many recyclable materials including waste paper, confidential waste, cardboard, glass, plastic cups, drink cans, from offices and service sector industries such as hotels and restaurants in Greater London area.  Over 600 businesses and 800 households served throughout Greater London.  Will provide environmental audit, carry out thorough review of a company's wastes, and help carry out policy, which will cut both waste and costs.  Dedicated to recycling - will provide recycled products to close the recycling loop, and promotional material to inform customers of your recycling policy.  Can collect up to twice daily if required.  Range of bags and containers available.  Established 1991.  (Updated Nov 2005)

Grundon S (Ewelme) Ltd

Tel 01491 839212  Fax 01491 832272
Goulds Grove, Ewelme, WALLINGFORD, Oxon OX10 6PJ

Integrated company also trading as S Grundon (Waste) Ltd at Colnbrook, Berks.  Six sites, mainly in Oxfordshire and Berks.  Collection and disposal of all classes of dry waste and liquid by tanker or drum; clinical waste collection and incineration; landfill site and MRF operation.  ESA member.  Collects fluorescent tubes to be recycled in Manchester by Mercury Recycling Ltd.

Independent Services Waste Management
Tel 0161 877 0977 Fax 0161 877 0390
Unit G, Canalside North, Westinghouse Road, Trafford Park, MANCHESTER M17 1DP

Nationwide collection and recycling service for spent fluorescent tubes mercury vapour and sodium lamps, and other mercury-bearing waste such as dental amalgam, using a distillation technique developed by Swedish company MRT System AB.  Charges are from about 0.15 to 0.50 per lamp plus 25 per collection, based on a minimum of 200. Storage containers with capacity for 1500 or 5000 tubes are available on monthly rental.

Karraway Waste Paper

Tel 0208 236 0108  Fax 0208 905 2400
Email info@karraway.co.uk  Website www.karraway.co.uk 
1 Folly Close, RADLETT, Herts WD7 8DR

Purchaser of all types of waste paper and confidential document destruction by shredding or incineration.  Collection of toner cartridges for remanufacture and fluorescent tubes for recycling.  (Updated Feb 2001).

Lamp Recycling Company
Tel 01256 842030  Fax 01256 463364
Email  sales@lamprecycling.co.uk   Website www.lamprecycling.co.uk 
7 Bessemer Park, Bessemer Road, BASINGSTOKE, Hants RG21 3NB
Contact  Norman Kemp, Managing Director  or Nina Adams, Sales & Administration

Collection from around UK, delivery and sorting of lamps at waste transfer station, Basingstoke.  Cost saving for lamps delivered to site.  These are sorted onto special pallets, each containing the same kind of lamp.  Loads of 40 or more full pallets (average 60,000 lamps) are sent to a plant where fluorescent tubes are fed through a machine which separates materials, including mercury.  (Even 3 different phosphor powders are kept separate.) Glass is crushed and fills a 1-tonne bag.  Other lamps are recycled here too, but the process is more labour intensive.  Up to 98% of content is recycled, and recyclate sent to manufacturer Philips Lighting in Holland.  Using recyclate saves 85% of energy needed to make new lamps.  A fluorescent tube with a green insulator cap at the end is one with recycled content. These can now be ordered through an Electrical Wholesaler by those wishing to purchase recycled goods.  Full audit trail and recycling certificate if required.  Policy: minimise pollution, close recycling loop.  Office hours Mon-Fri 9-5.   (Updated Aug 2005)

Lighting Association

Tel 0 1952 290905 Fax 0 1952 290906 
Website www.lightingassociation.com  Email  enquiries@lightingassociation.com 
Stafford Park 7 TELFORD, Shropshire TF3 3BQ

Trade Association for trade professionals only - cannot provide technical information to the general public as they do not have the staffing resourcesBut long list on website of lighting retailers who may be able to help; also lists recommended products, and advice on energy saving in lighting your house and garden.  Subsidises manufacturers of Energy Efficient lamps 5 per lamp (proof of sale/delivery required), so they retail at the same price as conventional (GLS) lamps, giving affordable choice for domestic customers.  Scheme launched April 2005, with  guaranteed minimum subsidy of 5m a year for 3 years.  Also sets safety and retailer good practice standards.  (Updated Aug 2005)

London Recycling Ltd

Tel 0207 511 8000  Fax 0207 511 3785
4D North Crescent, Cody Road, Canning Town, LONDON E16 4TG
Website www.london-recycling.com   Email  recycle@london.recycling.co.uk 

Confidential data destruction - paper and non-paper products, cardboard (flattened - cages or wheelie bins provided).  Security sacks, bins, containers provided.  Collection and purchase of drink cans, glass, foil, segregated grades of waste paper, toner cartridges for remanufacture (minimum 10), fluorescent tubes, vending cups, CDs, pallets.  Collection mainly within M25 area.  (Updated Aug 2005)

Mercury Recycling Ltd
Tel 0161 877 0977  Fax 0161 877 0390
Email info@mercuryrecycling.co.uk  Website www.mercuryrecycling.co.uk 
Unit G, Canalside North, John Gilbert Way, Trafford Park, MANCHESTER M17 1DP
Contact  Graham Mitchell

Collection and recycling nationwide, through a network of collectors or directly, of fluorescent tubes, sodium lamps and all forms of lighting, lamps and bulbs.  Website states mercury from one fluorescent tube can pollute 30,000 litres of water beyond a safe level for drinking.   Only UK company with the equipment (made in Sweden) to recycle lighting by separating components - mainly glass, metal and mercury (predominantly from fluorescent tubes).  Operates 'Lampsafe' (for tubes 2' to 8') and 'Bulbsafe' service (for compact fluorescents, 2-Ds, halogens and mercury vapour lamps - container takes up to 400 bulbs and is collected free), providing special containers.  Also deals with other waste that bears mercury, such as button cell batteries (particularly from hearing aids), thermometers, barometers, manometers (pressure gauges), dental amalgam.  Mercury supplier and consultancy.  Byproducts go to other industries for use as raw materials or further recycling.  Works with Biffa in contract to recycle 1 million lamps from government buildings.  Plant opened 1998.  Plans to open a second site in the south of England.  (Updated Sep 2004)

Recycle Force Ltd 
Tel 01536 790007  Fax 01536 799132  Mobile 07835211829 
Email sales@recycleforce.co.uk  Website www.recycleforce.co.uk 
23 Symonds Way, MAWSLEY, Northants NN14 1GW 
Contact  Rob Kirk

Container-based or loose collection and recycling services, from fluorescent lamps to special waste, any quantity.  For all types of lamp, including fluorescent and sodium, purpose built containers available for storage on premises, exchanged when full; or clients can use own storage.  Fully licensed recycling facilities used for all waste.  Special waste:  independent help and advice for disposal, to government guidelines; 'more forms of materials are notified each year by the Environment Agency as 'special' or 'hazardous'; it is important these are recognised and dealt with properly on reaching end of original life'.  Shredding service for confidential waste, taken to be destroyed immediately at licensed recycling centre.  Various "Proofs of Shredding" available, including video.  Certificate of destruction issued for customer records, entire process documented and waste transfer notes issued.  Baled waste:  collection which does not need skips or containers, for cardboard, paper, plastics, etc - two services:   1) for small-medium businesses with little storage, collects any size and quantity bales of recyclable materials, both "one off" or regular collections of one bale or more (NB 'many waste companies only collect quantities exceeding 5000kg');   2) large volume bale collection, loaded at premises onto curtain sided trailer, taken for recycling.  A trailer can be placed on site for loading when waste is baled.  Compactors, balers, containers and other waste handling equipment provided, to requirements. Non-obligatory quotations and waste management guidance.  Aims to reduce landfill charges, enable clients to comply with current legislation, help preserve and improve environment, and provide best advice and guidance.  Attempts to source new avenues of recycling constantly as uses are found for more materials after their first intended life.  (Updated Nov 2005)

Recyclite Ltd

Tel 01953 451111  Fax 01953 456007
Email info@recyclite.com  Website www.recyclite.com
38 Maurice Gaymer Road, Gaymers Industrial Estate, ATTLEBOROUGH, Norfolk NR17 2QZ

Claims to be UK's largest independent fluorescent tube and sodium lamp recycler, capable of processing 40 million lamps a year.  Processing plant crushes, washes and sorts lamp components so materials can be reclaimed for reuse.  Choice of: Parcel service (for disposal of 25 - 300 lamps); Pallet service (2000 - 4000 lamps); High volume service (12000 lamps or more per year).  Full documentation of recycling process; issues waste recycling certificates.  Aims continually to improve process, and to help shape environmental policy.  (Updated Aug 2005)


Website www.sustainalite.co.uk   Email  info@sustainalite.co.uk  
Swan House, 207 Balham High Road, LONDON SW17 7BQ

Accreditation body, awarding Waste Management and Recycling Certificates.  Primary objective: to promote best practice in management and resource use of end-of-life gas discharge light sources, and to establish and manage an accreditation scheme for those who collect, recycle and manage end-of-life gas discharge lamps.  Lists on website accredited companies (all operate 1S0 9001 and meet WEEE Directive requirements), and lamp recycling hierarchy diagram.  (Updated Aug 2005)

WF Electrical plc
Tel 0208 517 7000 Fax 0208 595 0519
313-333 Rainham Road South, DAGENHAM, Essex RM10 8SX

Nationwide recycling collection service for fluorescent lamps and tubes. They collect from site and can arrange for a container to be stored on site during a de-lamping project. Branches in Basildon, Croydon, Docklands, Dunstable, Fulham, Harlow, Heathrow, Ilford, Kings Cross, Kingston, Oxford, Park Royal, Reading, Stevenage, Swindon, Tottenham, Watford. Also supplies replacement lamps.