Effective management is still needed for CFL that are potential environmental hazards. These lamps continue to benefit from central government fiscal subsidies. When the huge number of CFL tubes which contain mercury reach the end of their lifetimes, they usually are thrown away as average trash. Most people are unaware of the environmental damage old CFL tubes can cause. If treated inappropriately, it can be an environmental pollutant and became a major “health killer.” The environmental costs of CFLs and potential environmental impact it causes far exceeds its energy saving effects.
According to China Association of Lighting Industry statistics, China manufactured 4.28 billion CFL bulbs in 2012, of those manufactured 1.53 billion was for domestic consumption. Assuming every CFL contains 3 ml of mercury, the country’s 1.5 billion CFL bulbs could discharge as much as 4.5 metric tons of mercury, and be a huge environmental risk if inappropriate waste management treatment was applied.
The lighting industry is a much more market-orientated industry than the petroleum industry. Hence, it is important to strengthen market monitoring, and prevent poor quality products from entering the market. However, smart consumers are also crucial in changing the rules of competition and eliminating bad quality manufacturers and products. If average consumers compared products and became aware of energy efficacy, lifetimes, lighting quality and other luminaire indicators, good quality manufacturers could emerge as victors. Consumers smarter purchase choices could help edge manufacturers disrupting the market with poor quality products out of the industry. The Chinese LED lighting market would also finally be able to avoid becoming a low quality product market, overflowing with me too products under the umbrella of energy efficacy.
Government policies are not the only issue in spurring the proliferation of LED light bulbs. What's more, as seen from Chai’s example is personal action. The spread of LED lights on the market will also rely on civilian action that vote in favor of good quality products.