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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Green Operations > Standard Operating Procedures for Green and Sustainable Business Operations > Pollution Prevention > Pollution Prevention - P2

Mercury Is Reduced in CFLs Sold with the Energy Star Label -- and Through Wal Mart

Mercury in CFLs has arisen as the downside of this energy saving device in recent weeks -- and it is now being reduced in Energy Star CFLs sold by major manufacturers

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BENTONVILLE, Ark., May 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. today announced that it will dramatically lower the amount of mercury in the compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) sold in Wal-Mart stores and Sam's Clubs. Wal-Mart estimates that the new reductions will effectively remove an average of 360 pounds of mercury per 100 million CFLs sold in its stores and Clubs, a reduction of 33 percent (based on 13W bulbs).

"Wal-Mart is committed to selling only ENERGY STAR-qualified CFLs that are safe for our customers and great for the environment," said Andy Ruben, vice president of strategy and sustainability for Wal-Mart. "By partnering with our manufacturers, we are achieving mercury reductions in CFLs before they reach our store shelves. We are starting at the source to make sure our bulbs have the least amount of mercury possible. The reductions will ensure that consumers can take advantage of the financial and environmental benefits of CFLs now. Today's action is a great win for the environment and our customers."

To reduce the amount of mercury in its CFLs, Wal-Mart worked closely with manufacturers GE, Royal Philips, Osram Sylvania and Lights of America. All four suppliers committed to achieving a greater reduction in mercury content than the 5 mg standard set by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) earlier this year. These suppliers will also adhere to clean production techniques that will minimize mercury pollution from factories manufacturing CFLs.

"People concerned about the environment and their health can buy these CFLs with a clear conscience," said Noah Horowitz, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "With the commitments announced today, the amount of mercury in each bulb will become vanishingly small. Clean production techniques for manufacturing the bulbs will further boost the environmental benefit. In fact, the energy savings delivered through the use of CFLs will actually reduce more mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants than is added through manufacture of the bulbs."

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, coal-fired power plants emit four times more mercury to power an incandescent bulb than to power a CFL; emitting 13.6 mg of mercury compared to just 3.3 mg for a CFL. Wal-Mart's new standard will ensure that the bulbs sold in its stores and Clubs contain less than 5 mg of mercury. The reduction is another step in Wal- Mart's campaign to sell 100 million CFLs by 2008. Converting just one conventional light bulb to a CFL can save up to $30 in electric costs over its lifetime, prevent more than 110 lbs. of coal from being burned, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 450 lbs.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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