Green and Responsible CFL Vendors sell the Light, not the Bulb
A common complaint we hear about compact fluorescents is that milligram of mercury is going to kill us if it gets into the air or into the landfills. Like most things that go into landfills or recycling bins, like pop bottles and electronics, there wouldn't be a problem if there was producer responsibility for what they sell. It becomes less like a product and more like a service, where we are purchasing a delivery and recovery system as well as the actual product, in this case a CFL. Sort of selling the light, not the bulb.
That is why the new Earthmate CFLs from Waste Management are so intriguing; they "close the sustainability loop" by selling them in a box that includes postage so you can send them back.
The bulbs come with a "Mercury VaporLok" container so that even if the bulb breaks in transit there will be no loss of the mercury. Waste management controls the whole process: Selling you the bulbs online and taking them back.
Of course, this costs money; they are charging $34 for a four-pack of bulbs, where Home Depot is selling 14 bulbs for $40 and offers recycling. That is too big a spread, although there is the added convenience of doing it online.
But this is the future of green business- that you take responsibility for your product, from the way it is designed to the way it is made, to the way it is sold, to the way it is recovered and the way it is reused or recycled. Sell the whole service, not just the product, or you may not have a market.
More on Producer Responsibility:
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