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Reading first to launch community recycling initiative with Recolight

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Reading is to become the first place in the country to implement a new community recycling initiative which will see volunteers help to collect low-energy light bulbs for recycling.

The initiative aims to engage ‘recycling champions’ up and down the UK who will take responsibility for collecting used low-energy light bulbs for recycling in their local area.

These ‘champions’ will be responsible for collecting the used light bulbs in specially designed collection containers which can be placed in community locations of their choice. The waste light bulbs will then be taken to a central collection facility by the volunteers, ready for collection and responsible recycling.

The initiative has been created through a partnership between Recolight, the specialist WEEE compliance scheme for the lighting industry, and CoBRA (Community Bulb Recycling Alliance).

The government phase out of traditional incandescent light bulbs means low-energy light bulbs will be sold in increasingly large quantities. Low-energy light bulbs have to be recycled correctly because they contain a tiny amount of mercury. This is usually no more than 4mg and is not damaging to health, but can damage the environment in large quantities.

Reading Borough Council has stepped forward to be the first local authority to implement the scheme. The Council is now urging potential volunteers who would be willing to give up some of their time and perform the role of ‘recycling champions’ to come forward.

Warren Swaine, lead councillor for environment and sustainability, said: “A lot of attention has been given to recycling schemes that are aimed at stopping climate change or reducing landfill but there are some items should be recycled simply because it is the right thing to do. We want to recycle as many different materials as possible and explore innovative ways of achieving that and this is a good example of that approach. I’d ask anyone who thinks it’s important to keep hazardous materials out of our household waste to sign up to this trail blazing idea.”


Commenting on the scheme, Recolight CEO Nigel Harvey said; “This is a really important community initiative to keep a hazardous waste stream out of landfill. Recycling low-energy light bulbs is often overlooked but it’s just as important as properly recycling a fridge or TV. Our specially designed collection containers will be visible in convenient community locations for the public to easily use.”

CoBRA creator Mark David Hatwood said; “We hope that the low-energy light bulb collection scheme can prove to be as successful as the battery scheme which collected over 35 tonnes of batteries in just two years in one county alone. Anyone interested can sign up as a volunteer online at and they will be sent a collection container and a transportation box. We’ll also sort out all the health and safety requirements for them.”

Following the launch of Recolight’s nationwide scheme on 1 September, Waste and Recycling Minister Lord Henley said; “Energy efficient bulbs save energy, carbon and money but it is essential that people recycle them when they reach the end of their life. This initiative will enable people to take responsibility for light bulb recycling in their community and make the facilities much more widely available for householders to do so.”

The Recolight container, called the Bulbstore Mini, was specially designed by students at the Open University and has been independently tested. It features an internal ramp system which stops the bulbs knocking into each other and breaking. What’s more, the recycling container itself is re-usable and recyclable.

The CoBRA website has been designed to minimise the amount of paperwork volunteers are required to complete whilst ensuring that all the necessary health and safety regulations are complied with.

The scheme is now live in Reading and anyone interested in becoming a volunteer should email [email protected] or call 0845 601 7749.

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