EU widens ban on inefficient light bulbs

Europe’s larger energy saving potential still largely untapped

Press release - August 31, 2011
Inefficient 60 watt light bulbs widely used in Europe’s households will be banned from 1 September 2011. The switch from wasteful incandescent bulbs to new efficient lighting technologies highlights the huge potential for much larger energy savings, said Greenpeace.

Thermographic infrared photograph showing serious heat loss in a building in the Irish capital, Dublin, in September 2007. The yellow and red areas are the spots where heat is leaking through gaps or poor insulating materials and valuable energy is being lost, resulting in both damage to the environment due to a waste of energy resources and unnecessary costs for home owners and tenants. Typical weak points in buildings across Europe are window panes and frames, thin walls or uninsulated roofs.

Europeans will be able to choose lamps which are at least 75% more efficient than old light bulbs and last at least seven times longer. The main replacements are compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and light emitting diode lamps (LEDs). Halogen lights will remain on the shelves but are only marginally more efficient than incandescent bulbs.

LEDs last the longest and can provide up to 90% saving compared to incandescent lamps. CFLs contain small quantities of mercury and should therefore be appropriately recycled. Manufacturers running take-back schemes report a collection rate of about 30%. LEDs also contain electronic waste and should be recycled. Greenpeace calls on the EU to introduce 100% mandatory recycling of light bulbs.

Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser Frauke Thies said: “We can’t win the fight against climate change unless we stop wasting energy. Efficient light bulbs are a start that can help cut carbon and cut energy bills for European families. They’ve got rid of the worst, now governments must embrace efficient bulbs while ensuring that they are disposed of correctly. The next step will be to roll out efficiency measures on a wider scale, through improved insulation or the promotion of energy saving methods by energy providers. Efficiency remains the easiest and cheapest way to cut carbon emissions.”

The potential to save energy and create green jobs in efficiency remains largely untapped. The EU is currently preparing an energy efficiency directive but is on course to fall 50% short of its existing voluntary efficiency targets. Greenpeace calls on the new EU directive to include binding efficiency targets.

Cutting energy use could deliver annual savings of up to €78 billion by 2020, a million new jobs, better security of supply, greater economic competitiveness and improvements in air quality and health.



Mark Breddy – Greenpeace EU communications manager:

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Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.