LightRecycle Washington fee increased February 2018

While the number of fluorescent (and other mercury-containing) lights collected and recycled in Washington continues to increase, their sales (and hence the fee collected to fund their recycling) are declining. On Feb. 1, 2018, LightRecycle Washington's environmental handling charge (EHC) increased from $0.50 to $0.95 per mercury-containing light.

LightRecycle Washington "continues to observe a steep decline in CFL sales, as well as in sales of fluorescent tubes and High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights. While PCA Product Stewardship Inc. (PCA), the operator of the program, anticipated and planned for the emergence of LED technology as a replacement for mercury-containing lights, it has occurred at a faster rate than projected. At the same time, collections of all mercury-containing lights, and therefore program expenses, continue to rise. As a result, the PCA Board of Directors has determined that the Environmental Handling Charge (EHC) must increase again to ensure the program is adequately funded to provide lamp-recycling services throughout Washington State on a continuing basis, as required by law.
The EHC is set by the PCA board of directors, which includes industry representatives, and is not set by government. As per the EHC approval process outlined in RCW 70.275.050, PCA submitted a budget and related information to the Department of Ecology concerning the rapid decrease in mercury-containing light sales. After reviewing these materials at length with PCA staff and industry representatives, Ecology approved the EHC increase on November 29, 2017."

The Everett Herald covered news of the increasing fee and recycling, and decreasing sales: "LightRecycle collected 988,449 bulbs in 2015 [the first year], 1,181,616 in 2016 and 1,317,787 in 2017... Manufacturers reported nearly 5.5 million mercury lights sold in Washington stores during 2016. That's down from 8.4 million in 2015, a drop of more than one-third in just one year."

LightRecycle is a manufacturer operated product stewardship program run by PCA Product Stewardship Inc., a nonprofit, and overseen by the Washington Department of Ecology under the state's mercury lights law. LightRecycle allows individuals and businesses to recycle up to 10 mercury-containing lights per day at sites throughout Washington – find a location near you.