By Calvin Palmer
The old-style 100-watt light bulbs are flickering into extinction in Europe. Next week, the incandescent bulbs will be banned from shops in favor of energy-saving models.
The ban comes into effect on September 1. It may have been more fitting to wait until September 3 and the 70th anniversary of the start of the Second World War.
The EU dictat was agreed last December as a measure to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Other incandescent bulbs with lower wattage face the same fate in coming years.
It is estimated that 85 percent of domestic light bulbs use too much electricity.
The European Consumers’ Association BEUC welcomed the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs, saying “consumers benefit financially from the measure, but most importantly, they will be able to contribute to improved energy efficiency.”
The group also added that banning the old-style light bulbs holds drawbacks for some consumers.
BEUC expressed concerns “about the risks to health from the high mercury content of the new bulbs”.
“The EU plan falls short of the needs of some consumers who need to use the old-style light bulbs for health-related reasons such as light sensitivity,” it added.
The consumer group called on the European Commission to ensure that people who rely on incandescent light bulbs “will be able to buy these bulbs until suitable alternative lighting technologies are available”.
Stephen Russell, secretary general of ANEC, which represents consumer interests on matters of EU standardisation, shared the fears over mercury levels.
“Consumers should also have the possibility to return used bulbs to the point of sale without charge. Only in this way do we believe recycling can be made effective,” he argued.
In a year’s time, 75-watt light bulbs will be phased out and all incandescent light bulbs will have disappeared from European retailers by September 1, 2012.
[Based on a report by AFP.]