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Who’s Training the Phone Operators on CFLs?

Source: EnergyStar

I received an interesting phone call yesterday. It was a phone bank calling on behalf of my power company, offering to send me a free pack of energy-efficient CFL bulbs. Of course, I’m always a fan of free stuff, but I took this opportunity to ask just how I was supposed to dispose of them. Don’t these bulbs contain mercury and require special disposal options?  What happens if they break? Are they safe?

Poor lady, I stumped her. She put me on hold in order to talk to her supervisor, only to come back and assure me that the lightbulbs would be packaged with disposal and clean-up instructions. Way to convince me of their safety!

Information on handling and properly disposing of CFL bulbs, whether intact or broken, can easily found with a Google search, but you have be proactive about doing it. From what I’ve seen, there is very little understanding out there, even at retail and hardware stores  (including home improvement stores) that sell them.

Why aren’t manufacturers of wholesale led lighting doing more to train the front lines on safety and disposal instructions? Sure, there is plenty of information on energy savings, but there is more to the consumer purchase decision than kilowatt savings. (Yes, even in this economic environment.) The word “mercury” still strikes fear in the heart of the adult population.

To offer free CFL bulbs and not train the phone operators on basic disposal and safety instructions baffles me. Clearly, the manufacturer wasn’t expecting the question. Or simply didn’t put enough thought into it.  Yet isn’t that one of the most basic questions people ask?

I know I did.

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.

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