The European Union regulates the use of toxic materials including mercury through its Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, which includes exemptions for certain mercury-based lighting products. In June 2021, the Commission published draft initiatives to eliminate these exemptions for mercury in certain lighting products by 2023.
CLASP revisited data from a 2020 Oeko-Institut analysis to update the potential savings under the later phase-out date, and to calculate the costs of this ongoing delay at the country-level. We looked at the financial, environmental and health impacts of a two-year delay (to July 2023)—finding significant costs to European citizens in terms of excess energy use, increased pollution and higher cost to consumers.
With two-year of regulatory delay to July 2023, Europe loses €12.23 billion in cost savings due to excess energy use and adds 1056 kg to its mercury pollution burden. As the delay lengthens, the cost goes up.
- Excess energy use: 120 TWh of lost electricity savings, or about equal to the annual electricity consumption of the Netherlands
- Financial cost: €12.23 billion savings lost over two years; €487 million savings lost per month; €16.2 million savings lost per day
- Increased pollution: 1056 kg of additional mercury pollution from lamps over two years
CLASP further analysed the country and individual-level cost of the continued use of inefficient, mercury-based lighting in terms of cost, continued mercury pollution, carbon dioxide emissions, and excel electricity use. We found that the four largest economies – Germany, Italy, France and Spain represent 77% of the lost savings and 63% of the lost mercury savings.
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