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Environmental Protection & Preservation

Waste Management Releases First CFL Packaging and Recycling Program

Waste Management, today announced that it will provide Earthmate compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) in recyclable packaging that also doubles as a CFL recycling kit. Earthmate, is a business unit of Litetronics International.

This new product includes Earthmate CFLs packaged in a resealable box lined with Waste Management's patent pending Mercury VaporLok technology, which is designed to reduce the risk of airborne mercury exposure and environmental contamination from lamps broken during storage and shipping. The box is suitable for storing used CFLs and is approved for shipping by the United States Postal Service. Consumers return used CFLs in a postage paid shipping container to the Waste Management lamp recycling center simply by mailing them from home or any one of over 34,000 United States Postal Offices across the country.

The recycling kits are available at, Waste Management's streamlined online service for the recycling of universal household waste, including CFLs, batteries, and household electronics.

"We are excited to be the first company to offer this innovative product, designed to help consumers properly dispose of household universal waste as safely and conveniently as possible," said Rick Cochrane, senior business director of Waste Management's LampTracker program.

"We are offering consumers the first 'cradle-to-cradle' solution for CFL usage," said Jim Ouellette, vice president of Earthmate. "Now consumers can purchase and recycle their CFLs in one package and from the convenience of their home. The kit is the simplest and most convenient solution for the disposal of CFLs."

CFLs have gained popularity because they provide a quick and convenient way for households and businesses to reduce their electricity consumption. According to the U.S. Department of Energy's ENERGY STAR program, CFL shipments have grown from 21 million lamps in 2000 to nearly 400 million lamps in 2007. Aided by the new National Energy Plan, which phases out certain incandescent models in the coming years, it is projected that over 4 billion CFLs will be in households by 2012.

CFLs are up to 75% more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, but because CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends they be recycled and some states have passed mandatory recycling laws for CFLs. Earthmate CFLs contain an average of only one milligram of mercury - a 75% reduction compared to the four milligrams of mercury in standard CFLs.

"With the increasing popularity of CFLs, it is important to develop a recycling solution that is easy for consumers to use," said Matt Hale, director of EPA's Office of Solid Waste. "EPA applauds Earthmate and Waste Management for taking the first steps to expand recycling options for CFLs, reduce the amount of usable materials going to landfills and make recycling a CFL as easy as mailing a postcard. EPA encourages other companies to follow this example."

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