Incandescent Light Bulb Ban

Justice and Protective Services


Endorsed by the NCLGA Membership | Referred to UBCM Executive


WHEREAS the Government of Canada announced in 2007 that it would introduce national standards by 2012 for lighting efficiency that would phase out incandescent light bulbs, and the Province of British Columbia has passed a law that prohibits retailers from ordering 75 and 100 watt incandescent bulbs once their current stock runs out and then must sell only compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs; with both initiatives intended to achieve environmental benefits;

AND WHEREAS questions from communities seeking direction for environmentally and health-safe methods of disposal of used and broken compact fluorescent light bulbs have not been adequately answered;

AND WHEREAS questions relative to the safety, efficiency and sustainability of compact fluorescent light bulbs compared to alternatives such as LED (light emitting diode) light bulbs have not been adequately answered:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NCLGA and UBCM lobby both the Provincial and Federal Governments to rescind their ban on the sale of incandescent light bulbs until a viable alternative is readily available, proper and convenient return facilities are available in every community, and sufficient product testing and education of the public has taken place.

Additional Information

UBCM Comments:

The UBCM membership has not previously considered a resolution calling for the postponement of the planned ban on the sale of incandescent light bulbs until questions around the safety, efficiency, and sustainability of compact fluorescent light bulbs have been addressed.

Actions: At the November 24/25, 2011 UBCM Executive meeting this resolution was referred to the UBCM Environment Committee.

Federal Government has delayed the implementation of the phase out of incandescent light bulbs:

Background Information

In 2007, the senior levels of government passed legislation to ban incandescent lights by 2012 across Canada. As of January 1, 2011, BC brought in a partial ban on 75 & 100 watt incandescent light bulbs, retailers are no longer allowed to re-order them. These actions have been developed to achieve environmental benefits.

Based on recent studies, it has become widely known that Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) contain small amounts of mercury, and thereby cannot be disposed in landfill sites. Although they are energy efficient by using less energy and have an expanded lifetime, they still can't be disposed of due to the toxicity of mercury.

Not only is it difficult to dispose of used CFLs in an environmentally friendly manner, but according to a study conducted at the Technical University of Denmark, CFLs require 16 times the energy to produce a light bulb compared to an incandescent.

Around the globe, reports have been cited of individuals suffering symptoms of electro-hypersensitivity syndrome (EHS) when exposed to electromagnetic radiation which is a by-product of CFLs. Symptoms range from joint stiffness, chronic fatigue, headaches, sleep problems and depression. It has also been reported in the media that Health Canada has acknowledged that CFLs can intensify the effects of migraine headaches and depression.

Health Canada's website advises that Health Canada will continue to review the scientific evidence as it becomes available, and act if any potential risk is found. If the Health Canada studies are inconclusive at this time, why would CFLs be forced upon the marketplace and ultimately the consumer?


Currently, there is no regulated recycling program for commercial CFLs. There is a non-regulated residential recycling program with various businesses around the province participating on a volunteer basis. This is coordinated by the Product Care Association. Their website, at the following link, includes a map of participating businesses:

The BC Recycling Regulation will require programs for all electrical lighting equipment, including to the commercial and industrial sectors, by July 1, 2012. The Product Care Association is developing a program plan to meet these requirements. See above website for more information.

With respect to mercury, although compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) contain a very small amount of mercury, care must be taken to ensure that materials are handled properly. A priority of the Live Smart for Small Business Program (led by the Ministry of Energy) is to ensure that information on proper disposal of CFLs is widely circulated. The Natural Resources Canada website also has useful background information about mercury in CFLs.