Solid Waste & Recycling

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Take Back the Light

The Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) has unveiled Take Back the Light -- Canada's first and only comprehensive fluorescent lamp recycling program for the industrial, commercial and institutional (IC...


The Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) has unveiled Take Back the Light — Canada’s first and only comprehensive fluorescent lamp recycling program for the industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) sector. The program aims to recover and recycle the 30 million fluorescent lamps disposed of yearly across the province — ten times more than today’s efforts. In doing so, almost 312 kilograms of potentially toxic mercury will be properly collected and recycled.

Funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and led by the RCO, Take Back the Light works with both the suppliers and users of mercury-containing lamps to break down the barriers that have historically deterred lamp recycling in Ontario.

“Take Back the Light empowers organizations to recycle their lamps by simplifying the process and using sheer bulk buying power to get the best possible price for lamp recycling,” says Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director of the RCO. “Participating in the program makes both environmental and economic sense, especially when the current reality is that only seven per cent of fluorescent lamps are recycled in this province.”

The mercury contained in the 30 million lamps disposed of yearly in Ontario is enough to contaminate a body of water larger than Lake Erie to the point where its fish would be unfit for consumption. The program ensures that the mercury found in the bulbs is properly contained and reused so that it does not reach landfills and contaminate the air, water and soil. While the recovery of mercury is the primary objective of the program, over eight million kilograms of glass, 100,000 kilograms of metal, and 128,000 kilograms of phosphor will also be reclaimed and available for re-use.

Participation is easy. Organizations are invited to register online. A program administrator will contact the registrant within 24 hours to provide information about the recycling process and lamp storage and transportation procedures. The Ontario government is currently implementing facility management operations in all PIR-owned buildings that will divert 100 per cent of fluorescent bulbs from landfills immediately. Over the next four years, government-owned and -operated facilities will be phased in to the program. Please visit www.takebackthelight.ca


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