Dealing with Lighting Waste Disposal - News | Energy Security Game Changer

Dealing with Lighting Waste Disposal

2 October 2017

South Africa has adopted the waste management hierarchy and thus it should be used when making decisions on the management of waste. The ultimate goal is to find alternatives to sending waste to landfill and by doing so, diverting these underutilised resource to solutions that are able to extract value from the waste. This not only reduces the impact on the environment but also increases resource efficiency, and provides economic opportunities and job creation.

The diversion of waste from landfill is of particular importance for hazardous material. Fluorescent, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) contains materials that can be hazardous to the environment of not disposed of responsibly. Fluorescent bulbs, for example, have volatile mercury vapour which can be released into the atmosphere and bioaccumulate in the environment if the bulb is broken. As a result, National Government has classified these materials as hazardous, when being disposed, and has passed legislation prohibiting the disposal lamps at landfill.

If you are considering undertaking a lighting retrofit as part of reducing your energy consumption, or even when replacing lighting as part of maintenance, it is critical to make sure your service providers are legally compliant and disposing of your waste bulbs/lamps in a legal compliant manner. You or your business is legally responsible for the correct disposal under the principle of duty of care (which is legislated in the National Environmental Management Act (Act No. 59 of 2008).

Lighting Disposal Regulation

As per the National Waste Information Regulations (GN R635, 13 August 2012), lighting waste (as electronic waste) is classified as a hazardous waste. This includes, but not limited to: fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lights (CFL) and light emitting diodes (LED). Therefore, they are to be managed as such.

From 23 August 2016, in line with the waste disposal restrictions of Section 5 of Chapter 2 of the National Norms and Standards for Disposal of Waste to Landfill (GN R636, 23 August 2013), lamps may no longer be sent to landfill for disposal, but must be recycled or treated prior to disposal. This restriction includes crushed lamps, i.e. crushed lamps are not considered treated or recycled, and hence may not be sent to landfill.

Recycling Lighting

There are currently only two companies in South Africa that are recycling lighting material – Reclite and Ewaste Africa – both of which have a licensed facility which recycles 99% - 100% of the lamps. Both of these companies have a foot print in the Western Cape. To ensure that your waste is managed correctly, it is imperative that you request a Safe Disposal Certificate from your waste service provider to ensure that they are legally compliant and that your waste is being recycled and not disposed at landfill.

For more information contact GreenCape’s Waste Sector Desk: