The Department of Commerce, Industry and Competition (DTIC) is considering new light bulb standards in South Africa to eliminate old, outdated and inefficient lighting technologies.
Responding in a recently written Parliamentary Question and Answer, Minister Ebrahim Patel said his office called for public comment on the new standards in March 2021 and is currently in the process of finalizing the new rules.
He added that the new specifications are expected to be published in the government gazette by September 2022.
The specifications aim to improve the safety, performance and energy efficiency of light bulbs approved for use in South Africa by phasing out inefficient and environmentally harmful lighting products, according to the South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi).
“For example, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) currently on the market do not meet specifications; it is more likely that LEDs will become the lamp of choice of choice,” said Ashanti Mogosetsi, Project Manager at Sanedi, in a 2021 explanatory note.
“Although CFLs are often referred to as ‘energy-saving’ lamps, they contain mercury, which can be harmful to humans and the environment.”
Mogosetsi said that if CFLs make technological progress and meet these specifications in the future, then they can be sold legally. The purpose of the specifications, she says, is not to ban any specific lighting products, but to set their safety and performance standards.
Old and outdated lighting technologies are now widely used in South Africa, which are known to be much less energy efficient than modern lighting products such as LEDs, Mogosetsi said.
“In addition, these old lamps also contain elements that, when disposed of, cause environmental degradation.
“Mercury is extremely harmful to the environment and in turn harms the health of people living in this environment,” explains Mogosetsi. Mercury is the most dangerous component of CFL lamps.”
A cost-benefit analysis conducted by Nova Economics on the proposed specifications shows that while the environment will benefit from the new rules, the South African economy is also expected to see an uptick. The net economic benefit is expected to be R11.7 billion over 15 years at a benefit to cost ratio of 27.4 to 1.