Since the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007 that banned most incandescent bulbs by January 2014, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have been promoting the use of light emitting diodes (LED) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) as alternative lighting options.
In anticipation of the growing demand for green lighting, light bulb manufacturing company, Earthmate, aims to revolutionize the industry by producing the greenest lighting yet. Earth911.com caught up with Jim Ouellette, founder of Earthmate, to get the scoop on what’s in the future for earth-friendly lighting.
Earthmate is the consumer products business unit of Litetronics International. Litetronics is a designer, developer, manufacturer and marketer of a wide variety of light bulbs for the commercial and industrial market, including long-life halogen and incandescent, linear fluorescent, compact fluorescent (CFL), cold cathode compact fluorescent (CCFL) and metal halide.
Earthmate is currently marketing the most energy-efficient, environmentally beneficial subset of these to the residential marketplace.
The Earthmate product line consists of either compact fluorescent or cold cathode compact fluorescent bulbs. The line features several models with T2 glass spirals and micro-ballasts for extremely small profiles, “instant-on” light output, the industry’s smallest high output CFLs and three-way CFL and dimmable models.
Also, Earthmate is offers a line of spirals with the lowest mercury content in the industry – an average of 1 milligram per lamp.
A Bright Idea
Ouellette says Earthmate products use less electricity yet generate equal amounts of light of their incandescent counterparts. “Switching from incandescent bulbs to Earthmate CFLs can have a significant impact on the emission of greenhouse gases,” he explains.
In addition to reducing greenhouse gases, Ouellette says use of certain Earthmate products minimizes the risk of mercury contamination from improper waste disposal.
“This is because the primary Earthmate models used to replace standard 60w, 75w and 100w incandescent bulbs contain only an average of 1 milligram of mercury,” Ouellette says. “This is 75-percent less than the ENERGY STAR requirement and the lowest documented level in the industry.”
Earthmate and Recycling
Earthmate’s goal is to educate consumers about how to safely dispose of CFLs. “There are many lamp recycling centers in existence and our goal is to educate the public on the benefits of recycling and try to facilitate the utilization of these resources,” Ouellette says.
Earthmate teamed-up with Waste Management to develop the industry’s only primary package that doubles as a recycling kit. Earthmate offers a four-pack of 15-watt spirals and a three-pack of 23-watt spirals packaged in a resealable box lined with Waste Management’s patent-pending Mercury VaporLok™ technology.
The packaging is designed to reduce the risk of airborne mercury exposure from lamps broken during storage or shipping. The kits include a postage-paid shipping label so consumers can return used CFLs to the lamp recycling center.
Let There Be Light
Although Litetronics has been in existence since 1970, Earthmate was is a youngster in the industry, launching in 2007. Ouellette observed right off the bat that the CFL industry was large and growing, but homogenous.
“The products were mostly the same, the packaging was mostly the same, and the appeal to consumers was universal – save money on your electric bill,” Ouellette says. At that time Ouelette says the existence and importance of climate change and global warming was beginning to be recognized by the general public on a global level and consumers were seeking and expecting green alternatives.
“And since existing CFL brands never effectively communicated their environmental benefits, there was the need and opportunity for a brand to take the leadership position,” he explains.
Ouellette also recognizes another trend relating to packaging. When Earthmate got its start, plastic clamshells were the universally accepted retail packaging for CFLs. Ouellette felt it didn’t make sense to package ENERGY STAR-approved lighting in difficult-to-recycle clamshell packaging.
It was then that Ouellette devised an idea for a brand that would communicate the benefits of eco-friendly lighting. The name Earthmate was selected with the following tag line: Save Energy. Help Fight Global Warming. Furthermore, kraft packaging made from 100-percent post-consumer waste, with no plastic and printed with soy based ink, was developed for the brand’s unique look and eco-friendly delivery.
Earthmate in the Future
According to Ouellette, Earthmate is constantly working on new more energy-efficient and environmentally beneficial lighting technology. In addition to improving their line of CFL and CCFL lamps, Earthmate is developing products that utilize Solid State Lighting (LED, OLED), induction and other cutting edge technologies.
“Plus we will be looking at expanding the Earthmate brand to other lighting and non-lighting product categories that will enhance and support our position as leading provider of environmentally friendly household products,” he says.
The industry trend Earthmate is most excited about is the consumers’ awareness of, and interest in, environmentally friendly products. “Today’s consumer is expecting to find a green alternative in virtually every product category they shop for,” Ouellette says.
Favorite of the Three Rs
“That’s easy,” says Ouellette. “It’s Reduce.” He says the lighting industry has proven that consumers can reduce energy use without sacrificing comfort, convenience, ambiance or safety.
“We believe the same principal of doing more with less can be applied to other essential product categories, such as heating and cooling, transportation, home electronics and other categories where efficiency will lead to environmental and economic benefits.”