Recycle alkaline batteries and CFLs at IKEA

IKEA invites customers to recycle compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and alkaline batteries at their stores. There are not many places to recycle CFLs, and hardly any places to recycle alkaline batteries, so this is unusual and very welcome.

At the IKEA in Stoughton Massachusetts (IKEA Stoughton MA), these items can be readily recycled in the customer service area, by the exit. It is unclear whether this offer is intended to include non-IKEA items, but the drop-off receptacle is unsupervised, and customers are leaving all brands of batteries. It is hard to guess how many items one would be able to drop off at once, without attracting undue attention. And there seems to be little assurance that CFLs deposited will not break, which seems like a poor design.

IKEA declares an emphasis on social and environmental responsibility. It is impressive that their big-box store is up on stilts, with the parking underneath. And that they have a “green roof”, with plants on top. (So they say… where is the proof? There are no photos.)

While it is good that they offer to recycle the alkaline batteries that they sell (mostly AA?), it is peculiar that the reason they offer is the mercury content (which should be minimal these days). If they were truly concerned about the environmental impact of such batteries, they would aggressively promote rechargeable Ni-MH batteries as alternatives to alkalines.

They do aggressively promote CFLs as alternatives to standard incandescent bulbs. Their standard E26-base bulb is impressively compact, the size and shape of an ordinary bulb, rated at 530 Lumens for 11 Watts (a respectable 48 L/W efficiency) 10,000 hours. 2 for $10 (but sometimes cheaper at other locations). They also offer a spherical over-sized 20W E26-base bulb, and assorted compact-tube bulbs, some modular.

Those offerings are unremarkable; Home Depot probably does better. But their low-wattage, small-size, small-base CFLs are very unusual. They offer small, rounded 7W 10,000 hr E12 candelabra-base bulbs, and even smaller blunt-pointed 5W 10,000 hr E12 bulbs. And a unique 7W 8,000 hr E17 reflector bulb. These are intended for use with their line of economy-priced desk, table and wall light fixtures.

The store also carried an unusual red CFL — amazingly inefficient, 5 lumens for 7 watts? A great opportunity for an LED light bulb?

Their brochures and reports proclaim their “corporate social responsibility”, but it is difficult to obtain further detailed information.

To be learned: what does their roof really look like, how much green is there? Is the public allowed up to see? What does the Stoughton facility do with runoff water? What actually happens with the CFLs left for recycling? What actually happens with the batteries left for recycling?

IKEA light bulbs
(get them to list lumens, watts, lumens per watt)

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