Study on the environmental impact of energy-saving discharge bulbs. 2006 edition by the Syndicat de l'Eclairage.
Key words: light bulbs, economy, energy, pollution, electricity, compact fluorescents, waste, treatment, impact, nature
Fluorescent tubes, improperly called "neon tubes", compact fluorescent lamps and high-intensity discharge lamps (for street lighting) belong to the family of light sources in which light is produced, directly or indirectly, by a light source. electric discharge in a gas, a metal vapor or a mixture of several gases and vapors.
In the case of fluorescent and compact fluorescent lamps, most of the light is emitted by a layer of fluorescent substances excited by the ultraviolet radiation of the discharge. The latter remains confined inside the lamp because the glass of the bulb is not permeable to UV.
Despite their size, the low power consumption and the large luminous flux of these light sources are mainly intended for the lighting of factories, offices, schools, hospitals and public lighting. urban and road.
New, more compact lamps with luminous properties adapted to domestic lighting have made their breakthrough in homes in recent years.
All these light sources use a very small dose of metallic mercury, enclosed in the glass envelope of the lamp. There is currently no substitute for mercury that would allow the operation of discharge lamps and that would give them equivalent light efficiency and light quality.
In recent years, the contribution of discharge lamps to the preservation of the environment has greatly increased. This improvement concerns the characteristics of the products but also the associated manufacturing process.
The evaluation of the life cycle of light sources, "from cradle to grave", teaches us that on average and on a European scale, the electrical energy consumed throughout their lifespan is responsible for more 90% of their effect on the environment. The life cycle analysis of a tubular fluorescent lamp carried out by an independent British firm shows that the energy consumed accounts for 99% of its impact on the environment.
Even if the reduction or even the elimination of the hazardous materials used already contributes to the protection of the environment, the most effective contribution is, of course, the increase in the luminous efficiency of the sources, that is to say improving the transformation of electrical energy into light energy.