Lamp crushing service lights way forward

A Lincolnshire reprocessor has received royal recognition for its novel lamp recycling plant, and on-site crushing service, which is attracting increasing interest from local authorities

Lamp recycling services offered by Balcan Engineering have been recognised with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. The Lincolnshire-based company won the award in the innovation category for the design and development of its advanced lamp recycling plant, which accepts and processes both pre-crushed and unbroken fluorescent and other waste lamps.

The plant breaks down the lamps into their component parts for recycling – including the mercury which is retrieved as a powder for safe handling and recycling at a specialist company.

“Around a hundred million lamps are sold in the UK every year,” says John Rinfret, Balcan’s managing director. “Apart from the glass and metal parts, these all contain mercury and must be safely disposed of when they reach the end of their life.”

Crushing volumes

An important aspect of the Balcan service is its on-site pre-crushing of lamps which can reduce the volume by 80%, enabling five times as many to be carried on a vehicle. This not only reduces the number of vehicles needed to transport the lamps, but helps cut down on traffic congestion and greenhouse gas generation.

Balcan has developed a specific range of lamp crushers for use on-site and operates a mobile lamp crushing/disposal service for fluorescent tubes and other types of waste lamps. It also supplies storage containers for these products.

One local authority set to use Balcan’s mobile on-site crushing service is North Lincolnshire Council. Graham Sykes, the council’s operations manager for neighbourhood services, says that the lamps will be primarily collected from council-operated buildings and premises such as schools and depots.

He adds: “We are also responding to local trade businesses who are attempting to comply with the legislation and dispose of their lamp tube waste correctly.”

The council has purchased its lamp tubes and bulk storage containers direct from Balcan and Sykes expects that collections will rise as time progresses.

“Our current collection of lamps will run to approximately 2,000 lamps in the first year. There are a significant number of containers at premises which will take longer to fill, and we anticipate that this will continue to grow with between 5,000 to 10,000 being collected in year two.

He adds: “All currently will be disposed of via Balcan Engineering, but this will be monitored to comply with current financial standing orders.”

Asked how the service will help contribute towards the council’s recycling targets, Sykes replies: “While the weight of the material disposed of will be very low, the correct disposal of such waste is helping us comply with the required hazardous waste legislation”.

Balcan’s John Rinfret points out that although there currently is no requirement for lamps to be recycled, disposal to compatible landfills costs about £150 per time.

“Because companies have invested in recycling plant it is proving cheaper to use the plant and recycle. This suits most of industry, who want to be seen to be green,” he says.

Future looks rosy

Rinfret expects turnover to increase once the WEEE Directive comes into force, and adds that he is delighted with the royal accolade the company has received for its efforts in lamp recycling.

“We were sure that we had developed one of the most original, versatile and environmentally-friendly solutions to lamp disposal. Every member of our 16 staff has made a contribution to our success.”

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