Zero Waste Advocates Visit DOE’s Mercury Lamp Waste Recycling Project

Zero Waste and public health advocates yesterday
 visited a facility promoting the
environmentally-sound management of mercury-containing lamp waste.

The 12-person delegation from the EcoWaste Coalition visted the Lamp Waste
Management Faciity (LWMF), operated by the Department of Energy (DOE) during
the pilot phase, located in Bagumbayan, Taguig City.

The EcoWaste Coalition’s Clean Production Committee organized the
“lakbay-aral” in coordination with DOE’s Energy Research and Testing
Laboratory Services under Director Amelia de Guzman.

“We are keen to see how discarded fluorescent lamps can be safely recycled through
the LWMF to ensure that their mercury content does not poison waste workers,
the environment and the food chain,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the
EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Joining the “lakbay-aral” were members of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Secretariat, 
Ban Toxics,  Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm,
International Academy of Oral Medicine and
Toxicology-Philippines, International POPs Elimination Network, Mother Earth
Foundation and the Nagkakakaisang Mananambakan  sa Dumpsite Area.

The DOE purchased the LWMF equipment in 2013 from the Mercury Recovery Technology
(MRT) System International based in Karlskrona, Sweden for US$1.37 million,
inclusive of taxes and customs duties.

The facility is comprised of a lamp processor, high-density discharge processor,
batch process distiller, drying oven and vapor monitor.

The LWMF, according to the DOE, is “a facility where all spent mercury-containing
lamps shall undergo recycling to recover mercury and other by-products (to)
avert residual mercury from entering the food chain through landfill leaching
into ground water.”

Early this year, the EcoWaste Coalition published a photo investigative report
entitled “The Toxic Silence of the Lamps” illustrating how busted or spent
lamps are unsafely disposed of in Metro Manila’s 17 local government units, and
the need for a practical system for the safe collection, storage and recycling
of such lamps.

The report is available at:

According to the report, “the indiscriminate disposal of busted or spent fluorescent
lamps as common trash  is not only polluting the surroundings, but is also
exposing waste handlers, informal recyclers and the  public to mercury, a
potent neurotoxin, which can lead to acute and chronic intoxication even at
low  levels of exposure.”

The group submitted the report to the DOE, as well as to the Department of Environment
and Natural Resources (DENR), to push for the speedy implementation of an
extended producer responsibility system for lighting products under the Joint
Administrative Order (JAO) No. 2013-09-2001 of the two departments.