Naked Science Forum

Non Life Sciences => Chemistry => Topic started by: thedoc on 28/07/2013 23:30:01

Title: Are there any disposal issues with LED lights?
Post by: thedoc on 28/07/2013 23:30:01
Neuenfeldt  asked the Naked Scientists:
Following your podcast ( on LED lighting....

I have begun using LED lights in the home, where the price  point for a bulb (60 watt equivalent) is $15 or below. If the price is  any higher I tend not to buy.

The quality of the light colour has improved over the last year. In my opinion, LEDs are much better than CFLs, which never last as long as advertised and have the annoying need to warm up to full

Are there any disposal issues with LEDs?

Great show, never miss it.

Kurt Neuenfeldt
Vancouver, Canada

What do you think?
Title: Re: Are there any disposal issues with LED lights?
Post by: alancalverd on 21/08/2013 09:47:17
Neuenfeldt  asked the Naked Scientists:

Are there any disposal issues with LEDs?

What do you think?

Never mind what I think, LEDs are Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) under the EU WEEE Directive and after 14 February 2014 they must be returned for repair or recycling, on pain of excommunication from the European Union.

Slightly less onerous than CFLs, which are Hazardous WEEE: AFAIK you need a licence to transport them, but only when they are dead (a bit like people, really). 
Title: Re: Are there any disposal issues with LED lights?
Post by: Mazurka on 09/09/2013 12:04:01
To echo the previous reply:

Yes they are WEEE, which means that (across Europe) importers and producers are legally obliged to join a "producer compliance scheme" or otherwise demonstrate that they are meeting their obligations to re-use or recycle waste electronic equipment.  The current target is to reuse / recycle 85% of WEEE that is collected

It is likely that retailers will soon be obliged to take back all WEEE items for reuse / recycling - as they are already obliged to do for batteries.  Currently (in the UK) most domestic WEEE disposal is via local council household waste sites. 

The actual recycling process for WEEE depends on what it is.  CFL's contain a tiny amount of mercury so are more hazardous to recycle, LED's contain various metals, including nickle, lead and arsenic.

Sadly the system is still abused (although less than it used to be as waste companies involved with the producer coimplaince schemes are frequently audited) and some WEEE gets "recycled" in parts of the world where standards are very different - for example it is not hard to find pictures of people in China burning curcuit boards in the open air to liberate copper and other metals for recycling.   

All people who transport (any) waste commercially in the UK must be registred with the Environment Agency as "Waste Carriers" and every load of waste must have an approriate "Duty of Care" paper trail from the producer (e.g. collection point) to point of recovery / disposal.   These rules do not apply to householders.