Illuminate Project

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The Challenge

Currently there are 600 million lamps and bulbs sold in Europe. The number of end-of-life fluorescent lamps in Europe will steadily grow from today’s levels of 150 million annually to a peak in 2020 of 800 million.

This will put an increased demand on collection, recycling and material recovery, including the capture of critical rare earth materials. Current collection and transportation methods for waste lamps often give rise to extensive lamp breakage, materials contamination, and mercury emissions which may cause severe environmental impact, processing difficulties and lower materials value in the recycling step. Recycling operations in many European countries usually handle mixed fractions of bulb types which is then subjected to materials separation and recycling. In a mixed stream it is difficult to accurately detect/identify bulbs that contain mercury due to the vastly varying nature of the waste stream. ILLUMINATE aims to remedy these issues.