David Hall and Dana Emmerson, partners in Dan-X Recycling Ltd. of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, have truly seen the light.
The two businessmen combined their resources and, with some assistance from the Nova Scotia government, purchased and now operate a state-of-the-art mercury lamp recycling plant.
The plant, manufactured in England by Balcan Engineering (a company with years of experience in fluorescent light recycling) crushes the bulbs, separates and cleans the glass, separates the end caps, and also separates the phosphorus powder that contains the mercury. The glass, aluminum and brass (in the end caps), and the mercury are all reusable: none goes to landfill.
Hall and Emmerson started Dan-X Recycling in Burnside Industrial Park, in 2009.
Their opportunity came when Nova Scotia Power offered incentive programs to have commercial buildings become more energy efficient. The program resulted in more energy efficient light bulbs replacing the mercury containing fluorescent bulbs.
“What they didn’t calculate was the waste coming out, most of which was going to landfills or to dumpsters,” Hall says. The issue is now “somewhat critical,” he adds.
“Dana and I recognized that was not the thing to do. Mercury is terrible for the environment and for humans. So what we decided to do was get the government to help us fund a means to recycle (fluorescent bulbs) properly. We were able to get the province to give us a grant ($53,567 through jobsHere program) toward a $400,000 state-of-the-art recycling plant.”
Hall says that as far as he knows it’s the only unit of its type in Canada.
In the first seven or eight weeks of operation the plant processed approximately 275,000, four-foot fluorescent bulbs. Prior to the arrival of its new equipment, Dan-X, which employs two full-time and two part-time people, started stockpiling bulbs it was getting from Efficiency Nova Scotia, which took over the Nova Scotia Power program, and Clean Nova Scotia, which encourages energy efficiency in the residential sector.
“We accumulated between 600,000 to 800,000 bulbs of all shapes and sizes. We still have 550,000 to 600,000 and bulbs are still coming in from these programs,” Hall said.
In the meantime, there are still no regulations — federal or provincial — that ban these mercury-containing bulbs from landfill. Dan-X is pushing the provincial government to have that practice stopped, and has asked for a temporary ban on putting the bulbs (each has 22 milligrams of mercury) in landfills until regulations are initiated.
“We would like to see environmental depots around province accept them and we will work with the depots,” Hall says.
Emmerson, who has been in the disposal business for 16 years, says Dan-X has the means to recycle these bulbs.
“So let’s do something about it,” he says.
Tom Peters is a freelance writer living in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. After 41 years in the newspaper business he now writes on topics in general business, transportation (particularly marine), general travel, golf, and winter sports. Contact Tom at