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Batteries & Light Bulbs

We were asked at a public meeting to investigate the provision of collection facilities within the Parish for the recycling of household batteries and light bulbs, since these items are not specifically handled by the normal kerbside collections. The following are our conclusions.

Batteries must be correctly recycled due to the amount of harmful metals (particularly mercury, lead and cadmium) contained within them. However regulations that came into force in January 2010 compel the sellers of ‘appreciable quantities’ of batteries to provide collection points. Thus now all supermarkets, DIY stores and other retailers selling more than the equivalent of a pack of 4 AA batteries per day have collection facilities. Our conclusion is therefore that it probably more convenient for everybody to recycle their batteries using one of these collection points, and a specific collection point within the Parish is not necessary.

For light bulbs the situation is more complex. Firstly, for the normal incandescent light bulb there is no specific hazard other from the risk of breaking the glass bulb, and they can go into the normal household waste. But, if possible, replace them as they wear out with a low-energy equivalent.  Most other types of lamps used in the households such as Halogen lamps, or the very new low-energy LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) can also go into normal household waste.

But fluorescent tubes are another matter – both CFLs (the Compact Fluorescent Lamps also known as low-energy bulbs, which are now in widespread use within households) and the long fluorescent lamps that often were (and probably still are) used in kitchens, garages and other locations within the household. Both contain Mercury (CFLs have about a quarter of the amount that is in a full length tube) and must be treated as hazardous waste.  You cannot dispose of hazardous waste via the normal household collection and they must be taken to the Newtown Road Household Waste Recycling Centre (and given in to the ‘Re-use area’ at the far end of the site).  An alternative for CFLs only (but not the long tubes) is the specific collection bin in the Recycling Point at the Sainsbury’s store, and you can also hand them in at the Robert Dyas shop, both in Newbury.

However communities can organise collection of CFLs themselves through what’s known as the CoBRA scheme.  A collecting box, the Bulbstore Mini, which has been designed for indoor use and is suitable for any community location, is provided free of charge. Specified registered volunteers (they need to be registered otherwise they would need a Waste Carriers’ License!) would then empty the container when nearly full and take the bulbs to the local ‘bulking up’ centre which is in Thatcham.
The Greening Group would be happy to obtain a Bulbstore Mini and provide the volunteers to empty it but, so far, has not been able to identify a suitable location. Do you have any ideas? – Please let us know.

Note: You may wonder how to dispose of a CFL or full length fluorescent tube should you be unfortunate enough to break one. Advice commonly given is as follows. 
Vacate the immediate area for 15 minutes. Then, do not use a vacuum cleaner, but gather up the broken pieces and place in a plastic bag. Use sticky tape (e.g. duct tape or similar) to pick up small residual pieces or powder from soft furnishings and place in the plastic bag and seal. The plastic bag doesn't need to be air tight, but should be reasonably sturdy. Place it in another, similar bag and seal that one as well (this minimises cuts from broken glass).  The bag should be disposed of in the same way as an unbroken tube.

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