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Lamp Recycling has Minimal Cost Impact, Firm Finds

In January 2005, Trammell Crow Company began an effort to recycle fluorescent lamps in the MidAtlantic Division, reports Mark Aaron Polhemus, vice president and director of engineering. Two methods were used to recycle and dispose of fluorescent lamps in office buildings.



In January 2005, Trammell Crow Company began an effort to recycle fluorescent lamps in the MidAtlantic Division, reports Mark Aaron Polhemus, vice president and director of engineering. Two methods were used to recycle and dispose of fluorescent lamps in office buildings. A cost analysis based on a benchmark of 300,000 square feet of office space shows that lamp recycling had a minimal cost impact on overall operating expenses, says Polhemus.

The first option involved purchase of a bulb crusher machine mounted on a disposal drum. The drum holds about 700 pounds of spent lamps; material in each drum is disposed of twice a year. The machine cost $2,750 and the disposal cost is $580 per year.

The second option is a collection program sponsored by a licensed and permitted recycling depot that supplies boxes holding about 70 pounds of lamps each. These are shipped to the depot when full. The cost is about $70 per box for shipping and disposal, with 20 boxes shipped per year, or 1,400 pounds a year.

For a 300,000-square-foot building, 1,400 pounds of lamps comes to 214 square feet per pound. Disposal cost for option 1 is $0.81 per pound (including the cost of the machine amortized over 5 years). For option 2 the cost is $1.00 per pound.

Quantifying Costs
For a benchmark office building of 300,000 square feet, with an annual operating expense budget of $16 per square foot, and a waste management expense component of $0.10 per square foot, the cost of lamp recycling is small, the analysis found.

Option 1, including the cost of the machine, came to $0.0037 per square foot, a 3.7 percent increase in waste management expenses and a .00023 percent increase in total operating expenses. Option 2 cost $0.0046 per square foot, a 4.6 percent increase in waste management expenses and a .00029 percent increase in operating expenses.

Benefits of the program included a small savings in landfill disposal fees, a reduction in risk and liability associated with improper disposal, and a reduction in mercury disposed of in landfills, according to Polhemus. The effort also brought opportunities to participate in EPA-sponsored programs to improve operations.

Professional advisors provided regulatory guidance for each state involved. All treatment and recycling protocols are managed through EPA-approved, licensed and permitted facilities, which certify and document compliance.


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