A energy-saving bulb factory in Zhengzhou. (Photo/Xinhua)
All across China one can find discarded energy-efficient light bulbs while processing machines equipped to recycle the used products remain idle, Shanghai's First Financial Daily reports.
A lack of recycling channels and high handling costs has led to the low recycling rate for these materials. Xiamen Topstar Lighting, which has two machines capable of recycling 3,600 tonnes of energy-saving bulbs and tubes a year, currently only handles less than 100 tonnes of such bulbs and tubes a year and most of these were produced by the company itself.
In 2008, the Ministry of Finance and the National Development of Reform Commission, which has broad planning control over China's ecnonmy, approved the first batch of 50 million units of energy-efficient devices, which were promoted with the aid of government subsidies. This marked the first time the Chinese government used financial subsidies to promote the use of energy-saving products.
Studies show highly energy-efficient light devices can save 60% to 80% more energy than ordinary incandescent bulbs with a life span four to six times longer than the incandescent variety.
China announced a policy phasing out the import and sale of incandescent bulb beginning Oct. 1 this year.
The report said that China's electricity consumption for lighting accounted for 13% of total power consumption. If the current 1.4 billion incandescent lamps in use are completely replaced with energy-efficient light bulbs, about 48 billion kilowatt-hours could be saved, which would be equivalent to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 48 million tonnes.
An environmental protection expert told the newspaper that China did not lack recycling facilities; the problem was that the business sector and the general public are not sufficiently aware of environmental protection and the government did not adequately supervise industry. In addition, relatively high handling fees had also deterred some enterprises from recycling, the report said.
The lack of collection channels, overlapping of responsibilities among various government agencies and the lack of financial subsidies had also added to the difficulties faced in the recycling and handling of the materials. China was yet to make the recycling of old energy-saving bulbs mandatory and most recycling efforts are made voluntarily by citizens.
Energy-efficient light devices manufacturing and recycling enterprises had differing views on whether recycling energy-saving light devices could become an industry. A waste recycling company in Shanghai said that it is an impossible prospect because recycling can't make money. The best way to promote recycling was to let the government subsidize recycling enterprises to handle discarded devices or let manufacturing companies pay the concerned firms for carrying out recycling efforts.