Pakistan is facing a huge and growing energy crisis, a daily reminder of which are the multiple instances of load-shedding each day all over Pakistan. The crisis, of course, needs long-term energy generation solutions. But it also needs immediate energy conservation. And one important way of doing this is through Energy Saver Bulbs.
Pakistan is among a few countries taking off aggressively to use these energy saver bulbs. While people have been converting to them in millions during the last couple of years in this age of Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) gadgetry and individual generators, the government has recently decided to import millions â€“ 30 millions by a newspaper report – of these energy saver bulbs for reportedly â€œFREEâ€ distribution.
This declaration of massive imports and their free distribution, if inappropriately administered, is fraught with potential dangers of corruption and abuse. Irresponsible persons can make fortunes at both ends of these transactions and at the expense of most economically solving the national problems of electricity shortages and environmental degradation.
In fact, it would be appropriate and in the national interest to manufacture these bulbs locally. That would support the existing manufacturing Industry which must be suffering factory closures, economic losses and lost jobs due to the en masse conversion from the incandescent lamps to these Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs, or CFLs.
Their massive use will supposedly combat the electricity shortage problem by using 75-80 % less electricity; lowering the individual bills and could also contribute to improved environment through reduced greenhouse gas emissions. However, few people realize that they need to be disposed properly, failing which they can cause harm because of the mercury contained in them.
According to an estimate China is producing 70% of the worldâ€™s supply of these CFLs. There are many brands sold in Pakistan, prominently Phillips and Osaka etc., The packing containers for none of these sold in Pakistan show how to take care and dispose them when unusable. However, those sold in the USA are also made in China but they provide detailed instructions about care and their safe disposal. The local administrations also provide special receptacles at accessible places. The regimes are similar to worn-out batteries and used hypodermic syringes.
Those who are making huge profits from this trade in Pakistan should be made to support and subsidize a safe disposal and recycling program, nationwide. If not as a public service then to avoid potential liability lawsuits from those adversely affected. In a nutshell, we have been advised that the CFL bulbs are good for the environment, the energy crisis, our bank account, and global warming! They also need to be informed about the proper disposal procedures needed for them, failing which they can cause harm.
The Government should regulate and make available an Environmentally Safe and well protected disposal system. The Media, in particular TV and radio have to play their all important part to disseminate it. The importers/suppliers must also fulfill their legal obligations in this. Finally, people must organize their own neighborhood Collection/ Disposal arrangements if Government fails. It will be for their own safety and benefit.