The Netherlands – An increasing number of Dutch retailers are now allowing consumers to hand in their used energy-saving light bulbs when they buy new ones, a recent report by the Netherlands-based foundation Lightrec has revealed. ‘Mystery shoppers’ who visited 533 stores found they could discard their bulbs at 83% of the outlets.
‘We have witnessed enormous progress compared to previous years. In 2011, only 63% of retailers participating in the study agreed to receive used light bulbs,’ observed LightRec, which is part of the Dutch recycling service Wecycle. Three years ago, the acceptance rate was barely 50%, the foundation added. This gradually changed as department stores and hardware stores changed their approach. Some took back all the light bulbs offered by the mystery shoppers, and LightRec noted that chains such as Mediamarkt, Gamma and Saturn were performing ‘especially well’ in this regard.
Electronics dealers are also supporting the recycling cause more and more. ‘What stands out is that supermarkets have done much better this year, while they were far behind the other players just a year ago,’ noted LightRec. However, employee knowledge still leaves much to be desired, with 66% of them unsure what was going to happen to the products they were taking back from consumers.
On inquiry, only 14% were able to explain that the light bulbs would be handled by Wecycle, while 3% were apparently prepared to throw them in the glass bin or, worse, the regular waste bin.
One encouraging development is that retailers are not just trying harder to recycle, but are actively collaborating with Wecycle and other players to install dedicated collection bins for energy-efficient light bulbs. This enables consumers to hand in their old bulbs even if they aren’t buying new ones.
Calling the retailers ‘an essential link’ in achieving a more refined collection infrastructure, Jeroen Bartels, Manager of LightRec, said that the Netherlands’ recycling performance might improve further in the years to come. ‘Once it is possible for consumers to simply hand in their light bulbs at the local supermarket, the threshold will be even lower.’
For more information, visit: www.lightrec.nl and www.wecycle.eu