DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaiian Electric Co. unveiled a program yesterday for recycling compact fluorescent light bulbs, which includes a kit as shown by Blaine Cacho, HECO's education and consumer affairs administrator.
Residents can recycle their compact fluorescent light bulbs with free mail-away kits from Hawaiian Electric Co.
HECO began offering 1,000 free RECYCLEPAK Consumer CFL recycling kits for residents yesterday. The kits, which cover shipping and recycling costs, are available at HECO's customer service centers at 900 Richards St. and 820 Ward Ave. The kit holds six to eight standard-size CFLs, or 10 to 12 mini- or specialty-size CFLs.
At a news briefing at the Hawaiian Electric Building, spokesman Darren Pai said he hopes the promotion will encourage the public to recycle CFLs.
Though CFLs can be disposed of in household waste in Hawaii, Grace Simmons, supervisor of the Hazardous Waste Program at the Department of Health, recommended recycling due to the small amount of mercury, 5 milligrams, contained in each bulb, about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen. In comparison, a thermometer contains 500 milligrams of mercury.
Concerned customers also wanted to reduce the impact on Hawaii's landfills and the environment, prompting HECO to search for a convenient recycling option.
"People have been buying them up in droves, but we also know that they are very concerned about recycling," Pai said.
Last year, 700,000 CFLs -- energy-efficient light bulbs that use one-fourth the energy of an incandescent bulb -- were purchased on Oahu, a fivefold increase from the 140,000 sold the previous year, according to HECO officials.
An agreement was reached in November between Veolia Environmental Services, a mainland-based recycling company, and the U.S. Postal Service to allow the recycling kits to be shipped through the mail from Hawaii.
The recycling kits will be sent to a recycling center in Phoenix operated by Veolia Environmental Services. The bulbs are separated, crushed and recycled for other industrial services. "Ninety-nine percent of the CFL material is reclaimed during the recycling service," Pai said.
There are no recycling sites for CFLs in the state. Environmental groups like the Sierra Club's Hawaii Chapter supported House Bill 2504, recently passed by the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment, which proposes to phase out and ban lighting products with lead and mercury and to have the Department of Health develop a statewide recycling program for fluorescent bulbs.
But the Department of Health opposed the measure due to concerns over personnel and funding to support the program.
Residents who are not able to obtain a free recycling kit can buy one for $20 online at www.prepaidrecycling.com or call (888) 669-9725.
Get your kit
» What: Hawaiian Electric Co. is giving away 1,000 free RECYCLEPAK Consumer CFL recycling kits for compact fluorescent lights or energy-saving light bulbs.
» Where: The kits are available at HECO's customer service locations Monday through Friday during business hours, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 900 Richards St. and from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 820 Ward Ave.
» Each family will be limited to one recycling kit. Only unbroken bulbs will be accepted. The kit will be shipped through the U.S. Postal Service.
» Residents who are not able to obtain a free recycling kit can purchase one online at prepaidrecycling.com or by calling (888) 669-9725. Cost is $20 per kit and includes shipping, handling and recycling fees.
For more information, call 543-7511.