Take-back of obsolete light bulbs – random survey of waste light bulbs
Lightcycle Retourlogistik und Service GmbH is a joint enterprise of the leading German light bulb manufacturers and was founded due to the statutory obligation of manufacturers to take back and dispose of gas discharge lamps from March 2006.
Nationwide take-back system
Lightcycle organises the nationwide take-back of waste bulbs and lamps (including fluorescent tubes and low-energy light bulbs) through local authority recycling depots, a collection network of voluntary handover points and through direct collection from large-scale consumers. In 2007, more than 150 million of these bulbs were sold in Germany, which after they have been used are recovered and disposed of as "hazardous wastes" by partner companies of Lightcycle. Not only the weight of the collected quantities are of interest, but also the number of items and the fractions of different bulb or lamp types that make up the population of gas discharge lamps.
Therefore, Lightcycle commissioned bifa to develop the method and carry out the sampling. None of the known standard methods in the waste management industry, for example, an average waste light bulb weight, could be used. Instead, bifa had to use the data provided by Lightcycle and make visits to recovery companies and collection points for waste light bulbs in order to develop a methodology for the primary data collection in the form of a sound and reproducible sampling method and sorting analysis. Qualified sorting personnel provided by the project partner AU Consult GmbH were deployed on site for the sampling in several recovery companies in Germany.
The average weights and fractions of bulb types were determined in the 2nd year and provide important information for Lightcycle so that it can continuously develop the take-back system.