EU to phase out traditional light bulbs from next week

Countries across the EU will begin to phase out the use of traditional light bulbs from next week, in a move designed to cut CO2 emissions by one million tonnes a year by 2020.

The Eco Design of Energy-using Products Directive was passed last December and will restrict the manufacture and import of frosted incandescent light bulbs over the next three years before imposing a full ban in 2012.

Under the legislation, 100W light bulbs will be banned from 1 September, with lower wattages targeted one by one over the next three years.

Environment minister Dan Norris welcomed the introduction of the ban, predicting that it will help to accelerate the UK's efforts to phase out inefficient light bulbs.

"We are glad the EU has put this measure in place to stop the waste of energy and money from old-fashioned, high-energy bulbs," he said. "The UK has had a successful voluntary initiative in place for a few years, and now the rest of the EU will follow suit on a mandatory basis."

Under a voluntary initiative, retailers in the UK have already begun to remove 150W and 100W bulbs from shelves and plan to remove all old-fashioned bulbs by 2011, a year ahead of the EU schedule.

The ban has attracted criticism from some quarters, with the Daily Mail launching a campaign earlier this year to save traditional light bulbs and some critics raising questions over the safety of the more efficient compact fluourescent lamp (CFL).

However, Defra stressed that nobody would be forced to change the bulbs in their house and that all retailers would be given the chance to sell out existing stocks.

The government also insisted that there were strong environmental and economic reasons for switching to more efficient bulbs, noting that traditional light bulbs waste 95 per cent of their energy as heat and that each CFL delivers annual energy bill savings of between £3 and £6 per lamp.

Concerns over the health risks presented by the mercury present in CFLs were downplayed, with Defra insisting that all local councils already provide recycling facilities for CFLs.

A report from industry body the Lighting Association earlier this month said the EU regulations are likely to lead to wider adoption of innovative low-energy lighting technologies, such as halogen bulbs and LEDs.

"There is a flood of new lamps coming on to the market and new opportunities for luminaire design," the report said.

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