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It all Started with Edison! IKEA Endorses Energy-Saving CFL Light Bulbs and Offers ‘Free Take Back’ Program Through Recycle Bins In All IKEA Stores

Submitted by: IKEA

Categories: Environment, Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: Apr 10, 2000 – 11:59 PM EST


CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa., Apr. 10 /CSRwire/ - Flick on. Flick off. The magic of the light bulb is simply amazing. Clearly, Thomas Edison's incandescent light bulb discovery was a landmark 19th century invention. And now, more than 100 years past, we are still filling our shopping carts with this everyday necessity.

Yet times have changed. People are questioning old habits and creating new lifestyles with a charge to be environmentally responsible; everyday in some simple way! And conscientious individuals are trading in their incandescent bulbs for the energy-saving compact florescent light bulb (CFL); a light bulb that can last up to ten times longer. In these times of environmental responsibility, this translates into better everyday energy practices and big cost savings.

IKEA, the world's largest home furnishings retailer, understands the value of CFL lights, as well as the need for recycling them. IKEA has been offering these energy-saving light bulbs for over ten years. Titled "Sparsam," the bulbs are a best seller and millions are sold globally each year. Consumers buy them for their affordability (only slightly more than regular incandescent bulbs), and their energy-saving capabilities. While they use 80 percent less energy than incandescents, they provide the same amount of light and reduce electric bill costs.

IKEA has also taken the offer of the CFL bulbs a step further by educating its customers about the need to recycle. Since these lights contain mercury, a strong neurotoxin, they should not be simply tossed out. IKEA offers the perfect solution: a 'Free Take Back' program offering recycle bins in all IKEA stores.

It was back in 2001 when IKEA implemented a recycling CFL bulb solution in all its stores. To this day, IKEA remains the only major retailer in the U.S. to spearhead such a program. In their fiscal 2006 year, IKEA recycled 156,301 pounds of CFLs. Notably, the IKEA CFL recycling program was recently singled out for recognition at a March 20th press conference held by Connecticut State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Blumenthal is trying to persuade other big chain stores to do the same.

Over the years, the low-energy fluorescents have experienced a "positive evolution." The bulbs now offer warmer color, don’t flicker and add instant brightness. Just as the incandescent bulb evolved, so has the CFL. If Edison were alive today, he probably would have been thrilled by this evolution and revolution!

"We believe home is the most important place in the world. Making our planet a better home for the many people is at the heart of everything we do at IKEA. So we take a step by offering CFL bulbs and a free take back recycling program. And we also ask our customers, particularly at this Earth Day time, to take an environmentally responsible step with us," said Pernille Spiers Lopez, president, IKEA North America.

About IKEA
IKEA places great value on life at home. A comforting spot where family and friends gather, where children learn and grow. A place where laughter is constant. And everyone is welcome to just hang out. An IKEA home is not about bricks and mortar. It's about beauty, joy and security. Since its 1943 founding in Sweden, IKEA has offered home furnishings and accessories of good design and functional living solutions at prices so low that the majority of the people can afford them. Currently there are more than 250 IKEA stores in 34 countries, including 29 in the U.S., where IKEA plans to open three - five stores a year. IKEA has been named to BusinessWeek's List of The Best Global Brands (August 7, 2006) and for four consecutive years, Working Mother magazine's annual list of the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers." IKEA was listed in March 2007, on Fast Company’s Fast 50, for its environmentally responsible products, as well as five consecutive years, Training magazine's annual list of top companies that excel at human capital development. Additionally, IKEA has been on FORTUNE's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for three straight years. IKEA recently received the Foreign Policy Association Award for Global Corporate Social Responsibility. IKEA incorporates environmentally friendly efforts into day-to-day business and continuously supports initiatives that benefit causes such as children and the environment including UNICEF, Save the Children and American Forests. To visit the IKEA Web site, please go to www.IKEA-usa.com. To learn more about IKEA environmental and social responsibility actions and programs, visit www.ikea-group.ikea.com/corporate/responsible/brochure.html.

CFL, Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs - Questions and Answers

What is an energy-saving compact florescent light bulb, and how does it differ from regular incandescent bulbs?
CFLs use at least two-thirds less energy than standard incandescent bulbs to provide the same amount of light, and last up to six to ten times longer: 10,000 vs. 1,000 hours. They save $30 or more in energy costs over each bulb’s lifetime.

CFLs also generate 70 percent less heat, so they’re safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling. CFLs produce no sound and fall within a warm color range. They are available in different sizes and shapes to fit almost any fixture, either indoors or outdoors.

Why should consumers use energy-saving bulbs?
CFL bulbs save energy, producing more light per watt than a standard incandescent lamp. Using CFL decreases energy consumption—resulting in energy savings—and helps reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gases. The World Wildlife Fund recommends conversion to CFL bulbs in our fight against greenhouse gases. The environmental non-profit group, "18Seconds," states that if every U.S. home bought one CFL, the effect on greenhouse gases would be equivalent to taking two million cars off the road.

If all households were to change two to three incandescent bulbs to CFL, it would contribute to large total energy savings and reduce the negative impact by producing less greenhouse gases.

Additionally, the bulbs don't get hot. They are well suited also for outdoor use and areas where a light is lit for a long time.

Why is the CFL bulb somewhat more expensive than an incandescent bulb?
The product and the production process are more complex. CFLs are more expensive as compared to the incandescent since:

  • CFL needs electronic materials where as incandescent does not need any.
  • CFL needs two filaments while incandescent needs only one.
  • CFL needs a special coating while incandescent does not need this.


    How much money can I save if I start to use CFL bulbs only?
    The main savings lie within costs for energy. The energy may account for a big part of the running expenses for a household. A CFL bulb costs three to five times more than an incandescent bulb, but it lasts up to ten times longer and gives five times the light output compared to an incandescent bulb.

    In a nutshell, if you use a CFL instead of an incandescent bulb with similar light output for the same time, you spend only a one-fifth on the electricity bill. The more CFL you use, the more you save.

    What is the cost of the IKEA CFL bulbs?
    IKEA offers 11-watt 3-pack linear CFL bulbs for $3.99 and an 11-watt 2-pack globe for $9.99.

    Is it true that CFL bulbs contain mercury? Why and how much?
    CFL bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing—an average of 5 milligrams. Mercury is an essential, irreplaceable element in CFL bubs and allows the bulb to be an efficient light source.

    Is it safe to use mercury in bulbs?
    Today there is no other production technique; however, in the production process the amounts of mercury added are strictly controlled. IKEA and researchers are working hard to find techniques that will reduce the amount of mercury even more. IKEA has voluntarily imposed tougher limit levels of mercury in CFL (three milligrams) than demanded in the Restrictions of Hazardous Substances directive (five milligrams).

    The industry is currently aiming at totally mercury-free CFL lighting, but this is still five to ten years away.

    Additionally, IKEA places strict demands on customer and co-worker safety and product quality. In the product specifications to suppliers, all legal and IKEA-specific demands are defined. Risk analysis is made during product development, and in production comprehensive test routines are in place. IKEA uses independent accredited test laboratories for verification. IKEA follows government norms for safety tests as well as standards for life and quality testing.

    How should I dispose of my CFL?
    Like paint, batteries, thermostats, and other hazardous household items, CFLs should be disposed of properly. Do not throw CFLs away in your household garbage if better disposal options exist. If better options do not exist, place the CFL in a plastic bag and seal it before putting it in your trash. You may also bring your used mercury containing light bulbs to your local IKEA store for free disposal. Another option is to check directly with your local waste management agency for recycling options and disposal guidelines in your community.

    What happens to the used bulbs someone brings back to IKEA for recycling?
    The waste of electrical equipment and light bulbs are taken care of by approved recyclers, experts in recycling processes.

    The bulb goes through a separation process into glass, powder and mercury. Separated mercury goes through a process of triple distillation which takes away all contamination (mercury has a tendency to attract other materials). After the triple distillation is finished the mercury is reused.

    Will IKEA continue to sell incandescent bulbs?
    The IKEA ambition is to find alternative lighting solutions that are more efficient and have less negative impact on the environment.

    What does the future hold regarding energy-efficient lighting?
    Some possible new alternatives to today’s light sources are:

  • LED (Light Emitting Diodes) is the furthest in this development and with today’s knowledge there are no problems with heavy metals. IKEA hopes to increase the use of this light source into everyday lighting. Today it is mainly used in decorative lighting.
  • The development of halogen technology called IRC (Infra Red Coating) is also encouraging as the lifespan and efficiency may reach CFL levels without heavy metals. IKEA continues to follow the development in this field.
  • Mercury-free CFLs are also under development. Research suggests that in time we can have a performance comparable to today’s CFL. But this is still 5-10 years away from any real industrial production. This technology may be passed by LED and halogen technology before this.


    How can I use CFL lighting to enhance my home?
    The possibility of creating functional and attractive lighting in the home is endless. IKEA recommends that the characteristics of each light source are taken into consideration and that lighting is planned for the whole home.

    In the kitchen, counter top lighting with an efficient fluorescent lamp gives good working light and over the dining table a pendant lamp works well with a CFL bulb.

    You can use CFL bulbs with paper or textile sculpture lamps on the floor or as table lamps.

    Energy-saving CFL bulbs are also well suited for table lamps, glass fixtures and for outdoor lamps.

  • For more information, please contact:

    Phone: 610.834.0180 ext. 5852


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