AB 2208 will protect millions of people from hazardous mercury exposure, while simultaneously reducing energy demand, utility bills, and CO2 emissions
SACRAMENTO – Today, AB 2208, authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and sponsored by the National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC), passed out of the California State Assembly on concurrence and now heads to Governor Newsom’s desk. The bill, the most comprehensive of its kind in the US, would phase out the sale of mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs and lamps.
“By phasing out fluorescent lamps, AB 2208 can light the way to a safer and more energy-efficient future,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “The California Legislature has taken the opportunity, once again, to lead the nation in consumer protection, workplace safety, and climate action.”
All fluorescent lamps contain mercury, a potent toxin that can cause serious and permanent damage to the central nervous system. Studies have shown that its effects are especially pronounced in children and other vulnerable populations. While the state categorizes fluorescent bulbs as hazardous waste, many are still thrown away in the trash. When improperly disposed of, they often break, contaminating regular garbage and exposing solid waste workers to toxic mercury.
Additionally, fluorescent lamps are a far more inefficient light source than widely accessible, mercury-free Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). On average, LEDS are 50% more efficient than fluorescents while lasting 2-3 times longer. For example, switching from fluorescent to LED would save a small office $6,000 over a typical LED lamp’s lifetime, while a school could save as much as $24,000. When it comes time to dispose of an LED, the process is much safer and cheaper. In terms of climate impacts, switching to LEDs by the year 2030 could result in a decrease upwards of 957,000 metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of removing 206,000 gas-powered passenger vehicles from the roads annually.
“AB 2208 represents a triple win for California – its highly cost-effective, reduces CO2 emissions, and eliminates toxic mercury, thereby protecting workers and all Californians. Other states can experience the same compounding benefits by adopting similar legislation to remove hazardous fluorescent bulbs from the market. We urge Governor Newsom to sign AB 2208 and help California lead the nation in taking climate action by saying farewell to fluorescents,” said Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director of NSAC.
Specifically, AB 2208 would phase out fluorescent lamps in general lighting applications by banning the sale of screw or bayonet base type compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) starting on January 1, 2024, and the sale of pin-base type CFLs and linear fluorescent lamps (LFLs) starting on January 1, 2025. The bill would exempt certain specialty fluorescent lamps, including those used in image capture, image projection, and disinfection.
The State of Vermont has also recognized the need to phase out CFLs by 2024, and the European Union announced in February that it will phase out all general-use fluorescent lamps by September 2023.
Assemblymember Ash Kalra was first elected to the California Legislature in 2016, representing the 27th District, which encompasses approximately half of San Jose and includes all of downtown. In 2020, he was re-elected to his third term. Assemblymember Kalra is the Chair of the State Assembly Labor and Employment Committee and currently serves as a member on the Housing and Community Development, Judiciary, Transportation, and Water, Parks, and Wildlife committees.
National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC) was founded in 2015 as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that engages in education and advocacy work that drives a circular and equitable economy, anywhere in the U.S., and at any level of government. Our vision is that the U.S. achieve a circular and equitable economy. You can follow us on social media via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and You Tube. www.nsaction.us