A watchdog group advocating for safe alternatives to mercury-containing lamps urged the government to act against cheap but potentially substandard light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs flooding the informal market.
The EcoWaste Coalition has expressed concern over the proliferation of imported LED lights of dubious quality as the more energy efficient, long-lasting and mercury-free LED lamps become increasingly popular among consumers.
The group sounded the alarm after purchasing last Thursday 20 brands of LED lights in Divisoria that were found to contain incomplete and questionable product labeling information.
“The lack of regulatory standards makes our country an easy target for inferior quality LED lights that are getting dumped in Divisoria, the country’s bargain shopping hub,” lamented Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“As LED lighting gains market traction due to its energy and climate benefits, we find it essential for government regulators to enforce product performance, quality and safety standards that will protect human health and the environment,” he emphasized.
“We are particularly interested in ensuring that mercury-free LED alternatives to mercury-containing fluorescent lamps contain no hidden hazards, require infrequent replacement and can be easily and safely recycled to reduce waste,” he added.
“It will be useful for the government to come up with a checklist that can help consumers in identifying counterfeit LEDs that could pose health and safety risks,” he also suggested.
On October 15, the group managed to buy 20 different brands of LED lightbulbs from retailers at 11/88, 168 and 999 Shopping Malls and the Lucky Chinatown Mall Annex with prices as low as P40 per piece.
The samples include Admin, Bayanko, CATA, GaoGa, Hetachi, Hua Mei, HXS, Kevico, LED Bulb Lamp, LED High Power Lamp, LHT, Ocho, Okes, Onestar, OTO, Rohstar, Star, Sunrise, XQG and XinMey LED products.
As the group told the audience of a “Lamp Waste Management Forum” held at the De La Salle University on October 16, none of the 20 brands provided information about their manufacturer, importer or distributor on the product labels, a red flag for counterfeit goods.
While omitting basic manufacturer’s information, the 20 samples flaunted on the labels their energy saving benefits (ranging from 80% to 90% reduced energy use, long lifespan (reaching 10,000 hours to 50,000 hours) and other environmental and health features such as safety from mercury, infrared and ultra-violet radiation.
The group identified false product claims as another concern, citing one product that claims a life span of 10,000 hours on the front label, and 50,000 hours on the side label. Other products claim to be compliant with the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS).
The group also noted that some products offered one to two-year product warranties but failed to provide clear and documented warranty terms.