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Lamp Recycling: Green Litmus Paper

Do you remember litmus paper from chemistry class? Blue to red indicates acid; red to blue indicates a base.…or something like that. In a similar way, basic recycling of cans, paper, etc. is typically viewed as the first indicator of environmental commitment. In the unwritten Rules of Going Green, you shouldn’t exactly be espousing how wonderful your new LEED-rated building is going to be if you haven’t even established basic recycling at your other properties.

Lamp recycling? Well, let’s just say that if you’re recycling lamps, it’s a pretty good indicator that your organization actually understands its regulatory responsibilities AND it’s probably fairly committed to the environment. Not recycling lamps? I’ve been on dozens of hazardous wastes / EPA inspections in my day, and RCRA inspectors just plain bristle up and start sharpening their pencils when they figure out that lamps aren’t being managed properly. Not recycling lamps is a clear indication that you really don’t understand regulatory requirements; that you’re not focused on the environment; and you probably aren’t running a very efficient building in any way!

Lamp recycling is a critical measure of greenness – because if you’re not recycling lamps, there are almost certainly other hazardous materials that aren’t being managed properly. Paint solvents – well they can go down the drain right? Old floor waxes and cleaning supplies - down the drain too or right in the dumpster? How about this bottle of mercury I found in the basement? You’re supposed to recycle batteries?

When I work with a company and I find out that they’re recycling lamps, I know that we have plenty to build upon….and that we can soon help to get that company credit for its efforts. Build in a commitment to recycle more and reduce wastes and energy and water consumption over time; and you’ve soon got an award-winning program on your hands!

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