CLASP Collaborates with Hinckley to Mitigate Mercury Pollution from Fluorescents in Nigeria

CLASP is working with Hinckley Recycling in Nigeria to install the country’s first fluorescent bulb-eater. The bulb-eater will allow Hinckley to properly dispose of the toxic mercury vapours contained in every fluorescent, protecting communities in Lagos from harmful exposure.

Win Njueh, Hannah Blair

Global Collaboration for Improved E-Waste Management

In sub-Saharan Africa, most e-waste is not disposed of properly. Collected and properly recycled e-waste (not just lighting products) was 4% in Southern Africa, 1.3% in Eastern Africa and close to 0% in other regions. Nigeria is among the top five e-waste generating African countries; in 2017, data shows that Nigerians generated about 300, 000 tonnes of electronic waste.

“We have been collaborating with CLASP to grow e-waste management capacity in Nigeria for more than three years,” explains Adrian Clews, Director at Hinckley Recycling in Lagos, Nigeria. “First as Winners of the Global LEAP Awards Solar E-Waste Challenge, CLASP helped us grow capacity to recycle off-grid solar products. Now, we are turning our attention to mercury in fluorescent lamps.”

All fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, a neurotoxin classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top ten chemicals of public health concern. Fluorescent bulbs release mercury whenever they are broken, which can occur in homes, schools, childcare settings, offices and apartment buildings, retail stores, factories, health care and other facilities.

Hinckley Installs Nigeria’s First Fluorescent Bulb Crusher

Fluorescents require specialized handling to dispose of the mercury contents properly. But the small size and weight of bulbs makes them easy for people to mistakenly dispose of in general waste, where they break easily. When broken, bulbs release mercury into the environment and put the health of workers and the public at risk.

“Fluorescents lamps are classified as hazardous e-waste. We have been collecting and storing them due to a lack of equipment to ensure proper and safe disposal. We currently have over 10 tonnes of fluorescents at our storage,” says Clews.

In 2019, over 850,000 Nigerians were at risk of mercury poisoning. To mitigate mercury exposure and promote proper handling and processing of fluorescents at end of life, CLASP is supporting Hinckley to install a fluorescent bulb crusher.

What is a Bulb Crusher?

A bulb crusher properly destroys fluorescent lamps by isolating dust and mercury vapour. The mercury released during this process is directly absorbed by the machine’s filter, actively neutralising the mercury and preventing it from being released into the atmosphere.

“We hope that Hinckley sets an example to e-waste recyclers across the continent to build capacity and recycle hazardous fluorescent bulbs,” says Nyamolo Abagi, Manager at CLASP. “Proper management of fluorescents has the potential to protect the environment and human health from mercury poisoning.”


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