The Halifax Regional Municipality and the Nova Scotia government are considering new recycling plans for light bulbs, which one company says is long overdue.
This week, Coun. Barry Dalrymple asked city staff to study the idea of recycling spent bulbs from municipal buildings.
"Can we collect the light bulbs and if so, how and what would be the cost, including the diversion from the landfill?" he asked.
The provincial Environment Department has proposed a new regulation that would require manufacturers of light bulbs that contain mercury to set up their own collection and recycling system.
David Hall is the president of Dan-X Inc, which recycles all parts of spent light bulbs from private companies as well as Clean Nova Scotia and Efficiency Nova Scotia.
The Dartmouth company, which was created in 2009, uses a machine brought over from the U.K. to process thousands of light blubs, including 400,000 commercial lights that are 1.2-metres long.
Hall said only seven per cent of light bulbs in Canada get recycled. The rest end up in landfills.
"Every four-foot florescent has 22 milligrams of mercury," said Hall. "And 22 milligrams of mercury can contaminate 220,000 litres of water."
The crushed glass from Hall's operation is used by a contractor in septic fields. The metal is melted down and reused. The phosphorous is sent to Pennsylvania, where a company extracts the mercury. The mercury is then used in the gold mining industry and the rare earth that's left is used to make new light bulbs.
Hall said his current business is sporadic. If Halifax and Nova Scotia commit to light bulb recycling, it would have a major impact on him.
"We could be running eight hours a day and hire three full-time people," he said.
Hall said he's optimistic about the proposal because the Liberal government appears to be sincere. He added it could still could be a few years before there's wide spread light bulb recycling throughout the Atlantic region.