Clicks makes the switch to save energy

Major retailer Clicks announced on Tuesday that it has crushed more than 56 000 of the conventional light bulbs it stocked and is now only selling energy-efficient bulbs.

While this comes at some cost to Clicks, it will help conserve energy and protect the environment, the company’s merchandise executive Craig Ludwig said in Johannesburg.

Minerals and Energy Department director of energy efficiency Dr Elsa du Toit said the initiative will allow the domestic and commercial sector to contribute towards the government’s goal of a 12% reduction in energy demand by 2015.

The general operations manager of the National Energy Efficiency Agency, Barry Bredenkamp, said he hoped other retailers would follow suite. “Otherwise we will approach them individually.”

As sales volumes of the new bulbs increase, prices will drop. Once the price difference between the new and old bulbs is between R1 and R2, the old-style bulbs could be phased out completely, said Bredenkamp.

An incandescent bulb currently costs about R3, as opposed to R15 for an energy-saving one.

Mario Biagi, sales director for Clicks supplier Amplux, said that once a factory to manufacture the new light bulbs locally is up and running, the cost could drop by about 15%. The factory is being built in Lesotho. All energy-saving bulbs were currently imported.

However, the new light bulbs contain mercury, raising pollution concerns.

Ludwig said Clicks hopes to have recycling bins available “this side of the new year”, so that customers can return old energy-saving bulbs.

Clicks stocks Phillips bulbs, which contain about 0,05mg of mercury. These are RoHS (restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment) directive compliant and permissible for use in the European Union.

Similar non-RoHS-compliant bulbs currently on the market contain up to 30mg of mercury, said Chris Liebenberg, marketing manager of Phillips lighting.

RoHS-compliant bulbs are between 5% and 7% more expensive. It is, however, harder to recycle non-RoHS compliant bulbs, he said.

The glass is recycled for use in insulation materials and the phosphor for fertilisers, leaving about 8% waste, said Liebenberg.

Replacing 15 old light bulbs with energy-efficient ones will save a household about R430 a year.

Speaking about the need for action on climate change, Central Energy Fund board member Mputumi Damane said: “If we continue to damage the atmosphere the way we have been doing, our kids will spit on our graves.”—Sapa

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