Home Depot, the largest home improvement retailer worldwide, also is the largest retailer of light bulbs in the United States. Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs have made up a significant portion of those sales. In 2007, Home Depot sold more than 75 million CFLs and grossed more than $77 billion in sales, but the big box retailer long has been criticized for not seeing the full consumer cycle through by offering a recycling program to support its sale of CFL products. That is no longer the case. On June 24, 2008, the company launched a new initiative, a national in-store CFL recycling program at all 1,973 of its locations in the U.S. This is the first recycling program of its kind offered by a retailer of this size in the country. “We waited to implement the program until we were sure that it could be seen through properly,” says Jorge Fernandez, merchant for light bulbs at Home Depot, who also is responsible for all light bulb purchases for consumer sales for the company nationwide. Home Depot is no stranger to CFL recycling programs; a similar initiative has been under way in Canada since November 2007.
The new U.S. program is a free service that allows consumers to bring in any expired CFLs, so long as they are unbroken, to a Home Depot location. Customers present the CFLs to store personnel at the returns desk, who then deposit the spent lamps into designated containers that are located at the back of the store out of consumer view. Home Depot has contracted with a national environmental management company who will oversee the packing, transporting, and recycling of the lamps.
In keeping with the company's commitment to sustainable initiatives, Home Depot also has started an in-store energy conservation program to convert its light fixture showrooms and display light fixtures from incandescent lamps to CFLs by fall 2008. The expected energy savings for the retailer is estimated at close to $16 million annually.
All of these environmentally focused steps are part of Home Depot's larger Eco Options program. Launched in April 2007, the classification program enables consumers to select products that have a reduced environmental impact. Energy Star, the program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, estimates that if each household were to switch one incandescent light bulb to a CFL, the United States would save more than $600 million in annual energy costs.
In addition to the sale of major brand-name light bulbs, Home Depot has its own proprietary line of CFLs called n:vision, manufactured by Technical Consumer Products. For more information on all of Home Depot's sustainable initiatives, go to homedepot.com/ecooptions.