Pitipana, a small town 35 km from the capital Colombo, is home to South Asia’s first CFL recycling plant, Asia Recycling. The plant is owned by Orange Electric, which has a local market share of 48 per cent in CFLS.
“We at Orange Electric manufacture around 0.6 million CFL bulbs every month. Almost 0.5 million of these are disposed in Sri Lanka every month. As a manufacturing company, we wanted to be responsible for safe recycling and treatment mechanism for CFL waste,” says B G Gunathilaka, operations manager, Asia Recycling.
Operational since 2011, the state-of-the-art plant has the capacity to recycle up to 30 million CFLs annually—nearly three times more than the annual usage in Sri Lanka. The facility has been set up in partnership with Nordic Recycling AB of Sweden.
The plant collects CFL waste from institutions such as banks, schools and universities, factories, hospitals and government agencies. Households are encouraged to dispose their CFL waste at designated collection centres. Orange Electric has put collection boxes at leading supermarkets and distributor points across the country.
The company also entices consumers with monetary incentive. “We give a discount for any brand of CFL bulb that is returned to the vendor. If a person buys a new CFL bulb in exchange of an old and used bulb, s/he gets 10 Sri Lankan rupees (LKR) discount on the new bulb,” Gunathilaka says.
Once the CFLs are collected, they are assembled at the Pitipana plant for recycling. Fifteen people are involved in the recycling process. The components of a CFL are first separated manually. The CFL waste is then put inside the Mercury Recovery Technology (MRT) machine, which has been imported from Sweden.
The machine breaks down this waste into plastic, metal and glass fractions. The glass containing mercury undergoes a second tumbling cycle.(Courtesy: (ecobusiness.com)