EU ban on 75W bulbs comes into force

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Starting from 2012, energy saving lamps will replace all incandescent lamps in the EU
Image: Giligone.

Starting today, it is illegal to manufacture or import 75W incandescent light bulbs in the European Union. The phaseout started last year when 100W light bulbs were outlawed. Bulbs of 60W will be phased out next year, and incandescent lighting of all types will be phased out in 2012.

The phase-out of incandescent light bulbs is part of the EU's strategy to cut greenhouse gases by 20% by 2020. Replacing the old lamps with more efficient models is expected to reduce energy consumption for lighting by 60% in the EU, equivalent to saving 30 million tons of CO2 pollution every year.

Although energy-saving bulbs were available since 1998, their relatively high purchase price has inhibited take-up. When the decision for the ban was taken in 2008, it was estimated that around 2,000 to 3,000 jobs would become redundant in the light bulb industry, in particular affecting Hungary and Poland. However, the European Commission also assumed that halogen production and savings of 5-10 billion euro from energy bills could be injected back into the economy to create new jobs.

In its editorial yesterday, the conservative The Washington Times harshly criticized the ban, labelling it a result of "bureaucratic irritation" and a "war on Edison's greatest invention". General criticism of such bans includes panic buying prior to phase-out, environmental impacts of the mercury which is contained in small amounts in all fluorescent lamps, and increased upfront costs for the consumer.

Brazil and Venezuela started to phase out incandescent light bulbs in 2005, Switzerland in 2009, while Russia and Canada are planning it for 2012. The United States is scheduled to begin a phaseout similar to the European one from 2012.