Distributor of Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Settles Over Green Advertising, Mercury Management Act Violations
"While using compact fluorescent light bulbs can help conserve energy, it is important that they are recycled properly to protect our environment," said Attorney General Coakley. "Companies doing business in the Commonwealth must comply with our environmental protection laws."
The settlement resolves claims that Lumiram made representations in its advertisements on the web that conveyed that the company was a conscientious environmental corporate citizen, even though the company was out of compliance with the state's program for managing the disposal of waste mercury in the compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) it sells.
In February 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) notified Lumiram that it was out of compliance with the Mercury Management Act by failing to submit and certify that they had a mercury education plan in place and failed to submit reports that included lamp sales and life expectancy data for the years 2002-2007. Thereafter, MassDEP issued the company a $6,000 administrative penalty for those violations.
The company has since taken steps to comply with the mercury management program, which requires that manufacturers like Lumiram develop and implement a plan for educating consumers about mercury and the requirement to recycle burned-out mercury lamps. Lumiram has also agreed to refrain from making unsupported environmental claims in the future. The Attorney General's Office and MassDEP settled similar claims in April 2011 against EarthTronics, Inc., of Michigan, doing business in Massachusetts.
"Mercury-containing CFLs provide important energy savings for Massachusetts businesses and residents," said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth L. Kimmell. "At the same time, MassDEP is committed to holding manufacturers and retailers accountable when it comes to complying with the state's comprehensive Mercury Management Act, which ensures safe handling and recycling of products containing mercury."
The state's Mercury Management Act, signed into law in July 2006, is designed to keep mercury, a toxic metal, out of our trash and wastewater. The law requires that manufacturers of bulbs sold in the Commonwealth that contain added mercury must have a plan for educating consumers about the mercury content in their products and about the state's requirements that the mercury be recycled. The manufacturers must also report information about mercury lamp sales and recycling to MassDEP so the agency can determine the recycling rate for these products.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Goldberg, of Coakley's Environmental Protection Division, is handling the case. MassDEP attorney Robert Ritchie and Jordan Macy of the MassDEP Bureau of Waste Prevention also provided assistance.