On 7 December 2021, Australia joined with 130 other countries by ratifying the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Mercury is regarded as one of the world’s top ten toxic chemicals of concern because of its detrimental effects for both humans and wildlife. The treaty will enter into force for Australia on 7 March 2022.
The most tangible impact of the Convention on IPWEA members and our broader community of stakeholders will be a ban on importing mercury vapour lamps from next March which is sooner than previously foreshadowed.
Lighting owners will need to give their asset replacement plans attention if they still have mercury vapour lighting in their lighting portfolios. With modern LED alternatives delivering typical energy savings of 50-80% as well as much greater reliability, there is plenty of incentive to upgrade.
Following ratification of the Convention, IPWEA spoke to some of Australia’s leading lighting providers this week to get their perspectives:
“Mercury vapour lamps need fairly frequent bulk replacement. Many of our customers are using their bulk maintenance cycle as an opportunity to replace old luminaires with new LED luminaires. These systematic upgrades are bringing environmental and economic benefits that far outweigh any advantage of continuing with mercury vapour lamps.” Said Kaushal Kapadia, CEO, Schréder Australia.
“We are already seeing a global trend in the last few years of declining sales of mercury-based lamps, and with that decline as well as the restriction of hazardous substances, the overall cost of these lamps is increasing. The ever-increasing improvement in LED technology along with smart lighting controls has really made an impact with our customers, and it shows with the increased sales of LED over traditional lamp technologies.” Said a spokesperson for Signify.
Terry Cook, General Manager of Pecan Lighting, said that “One strategy being used to work old mercury vapour luminaires out of the system is to adopt a policy of replacing the whole luminaire whenever there is a fault of any type.”
“The global switch to LED lighting is making the availability of all conventional lamps difficult, even from major manufacturers like GE Lighting. However, good replacement LED lamps are now available that can be retrofit into existing mercury vapour, high pressure sodium and compact fluorescent luminaires. These retrofit LED lamps have up to a 50,000 hour life and enable considerable energy savings while extending the life of existing luminaires that are too expensive or difficult to replace in the short term.” Said Ian Killick, General Manager, Connected Light Solutions.
For further discussion of the implications of the Minamata Convention on Mercury for councils, see Minamata Convention: Big implications for local councils