Dear List Member of FSB
Our South African parastatal energy provider ESKOM has recently embarked on a Demand Side Management programme for both households and businesses to fight the increasing amount of power failures all over the country due to severe energy generation capacity problems. In response, in 2006 the company handed out 5.5 million energy saving CFL's in the Western Cape province alone mostly to poor and medium income households via a free give-away through local retailers. Now, only one year later, some of these CFLs imported from Asia have already started to fail. In response, both the Provincial Government and the City of Cape Town Municipality held various brainstorming workshops with Eskom and other key stakeholders (including manufacturers) to jointly find a solution to the potential mercury waste problem we face now. In response and to fulfill their corporate social responsibility, Eskom recently appointed a team of consultants (including myself) to conduct a study to propose how to remove CFLs from the general household waste stream to a hazardous landfill site for safe disposal (immediate focus). Based on the resulting feasibility study findings and sustainability focus the consultant team will then look at the diversion and complete closed loop cycling and material reclamation options (long term focus). The main goal of these investigations is to develop a pilot project for the responsible disposal of CFLs in the Western Cape for roll out to the rest of South Africa, and to compile an associated recycling plant/facilities and material reclamation strategy.
I would appreciate any information on international best practice with regard to :
1) how to divert CFL's from general household waste
2) treatment and recycling options of CFLs
3) different collection and finance models for CFL recovery
4) successful public educational programmes to drive those initiatives.
Since this study will have to adivse on strategies that work for the entire Western Cape province a range of different take-back and collection strategies need to be developed in response to both rural and urban communities cross-cutting from high income to low income households. Thank you very much for any support you could give me with your expertise to develop a viable CFL strategy for the Western Cape and ultimately South Africa.
Integrated Resource and Waste Management Specialist
61 Peninsula Road
Finding International Best Practice Models for CFL Diversion from Household Waste and Recycling Options
Dear List Member of FSB
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Dear Friends -
This is an illustration of what's becoming axiomatic to me: SCALE MATTERS, and we can't go on living this way. I have personally had two CFL's fail within weeks. They are sitting around waiting for an opportunity for "responsible" disposal. And then there are all the other problems - manufactured in China, unknown labor "practices," pollution and toxicity at origin and destination, shipped thousands of miles. Like running a vehicle on vegetable-based fuels - great idea for recycling smelly french-fry oil from your local fast-food joint, terrible idea for fueling millions of vehicles on decimated rainforests and displaced food crops.
Cheers for the holidays,
SCALE MATTERS, and we can't go on living this way. Absolutely right, but look at it from the other direction. Just a relative handful of us following green practices and trying to peresuade against global exploitation makes us feel virtuous but somewhat ineffective. It's when we can convince those around us, link our schemes together, and persuade (somehow) significant sections of the community to follow suit, that FSB shows its strength. This listserve has described lots of lovely schemes about greening in various ways, apparently to the huge satisfaction of those involved, and one wants to ask why they are not becoming more widespread rather than fighting for funding to continue. The recent libraries issue is another example of why such results can be hard for modern communities to achieve. The public library used to be a natural community centre, where mums with toddlers would meet during school afternoons, where retired people would read the newspapers that they could not buy, and where local plans were hatched. Where are those physical centres nowadays? In terms of knowledge, the internet is a great place for finding what you may be looking for, but will not offer the fruits that 'browsing' in a library used to, namely unexpected inspiration. In terms of human interaction, cell phones and ipods have bred a generation that expects to choose its own company, and the idea of even talking to your nextdoor passenger about local issues seems taboo. We don't want to set the clock all the way back, but we should analyse what the past can teach us (isn't that why we study History??) in respect of community education. The bottom-up approach, on its own, can feel futile to some of us; it needs to be combined with the essential top-down approach that will always favour local instead of overseas markets, legislate tax incentives, etc., to boost inclinations in the greening way - i.e. all that the FSB book teaches us. THEN, scale will indeed matter hugely.
Hi Elizabeth -
I think we're using the word "scale" differently. I meant to say that economic activity which is environmentally accepptable when local, becomes very destructive when expanded beyond limited bioregions. I certainly agree that globally "scaling up" to local makes sense: using the knowledge and skills we've developed over the past centuries and applying them for environmental and human benefit, locally, equitably, worldwide. I hope that small actions we discuss on this list add up to a positive tipping point very soon. While I find that mostly we're timid and floundering (myself included), we are gathering confidence and gaining the strength to take the next step: to face the very grim and urgent reality ourselves and to figure out how to communicate that reality effectively to others. As for history, I am in absolute agreement - our understanding of the past has gone AWOL, and, as Howard Zinn has said, if we don't know history we're like newborn babes, and we'll believe any nonsense we're told. George W. Bush, 9/11, terrorism, etc. Q.E.D.
It is unfortunate that some of the CFLs handed out in Western Cape province have already failed. As with any product in high demand, counterfeits do occur. In North America, ENERGY STAR qualified products are subject to strict standards (as per Canadian Standards Association, American National Standards Institute, and Underwriters Laboratories Inc.) for quality (long life, colour, brightness) and energy efficiency. As such, ENERGY STAR CFLs are recommended. I don't know what the equivalent standards would be in South Africa. Here is a link to additional information about CFLs: http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/energystar/english/consumers/questions-answers.cfm?text=N&printview=N.
Clean Nova Scotia
Happy to share a partial response presently. In Buncombe County, North Carolina, USA, the county solid waste dept started a program with local fire departments serving as drop-off collection sites. While CFL's and ALL fluorescent bulbs are accepted at the county landfill, using fire stations located around the county as collection sites makes it much more convenient for residents. Fire stations are open all the time and given their various locations, driving distance for residents willing to recycle their fluorescents is reduced (considerably in some cases). Needless to say, fire department staff understand the toxicity and safety issues. This county fluorescent recycling program was advertised in the county government e-mail newsletter, in the solid waste dept qtrly newsletter (inserted into newspapers & posted on-line), and as a press release to the major city paper and various community newspapers when the program began. I also noted that the information had been printed on qtr-page sheets that were available to the public at a regional energy EXPO (I assume they were out at other locations/events as well). Those are at least the publicity avenues used by the county SW dept that I am aware of. My volunteer group that promotes recycling in our small town and surrounding community placed copies of the information in our local library and included it in our own e-mail newsletter at the onset, and have included reminders in a number of newletters since. It will also be on our website when we launch it in the near future. We also have had copies available at our educational booth at various community events, and have posted in on our recycling bulletin board at our library as well. I know the public was quick to respond, as shared by the staff at a town meeting shortly after the program started.
Black Mountain, NC