Light bulb settlement yields $7K, ad changes
BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a settlement on Tuesday with a New York distributor of compact fluorescent bulbs over alleged misleading environmental advertising and Mercury Management Act violations.
Lumiram Electric Corporation agreed to correct its advertising and has taken necessary steps to comply with the state's mercury waste management requirements. The company has paid the state $1,000 in legal costs and penalties and $6,000 for failing to file required certifications and reports.
"While using compact fluorescent light bulbs can help conserve energy, it is important that they are recycled properly to protect our environment," Coakley said. "Companies doing business in the state must comply with our environmental protection laws."
Coakley alleged that Lumiram made representations in its advertisements on the internet conveying that the company was a conscientious environmental corporate citizen, even though the company was out of compliance with the state's program for managing the disposal of waste mercury in the CFLs it sells.
The company was notified in February 2009 that it was out of compliance with the Mercury Management Act by failing to submit and certify that it had a mercury education plan in place and failing to submit reports that included lamp sales and life expectancy data for the years 2002-2007. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection issued the company a $6,000 administrative penalty for those violations.
Since then, the company has taken steps to comply with the mercury management program, which requires that manufacturers like Lumiram develop and implement a plan for educating consumers about mercury and that burned-out mercury lamps be recycled. The company also agreed to refrain from making unsupported environmental claims in the future.
Coakley's office and MassDEP settled similar claims in April against the Michigan-based company EarthTronics Inc., doing business in Massachusetts.
The state's Mercury Management Act, which was signed into law in July 2006, is designed to keep the toxic metal mercury out of wastewater and trash. The law requires that manufacturers of bulbs sold in the state that contain added mercury must have a plan to educate consumers about the mercury content in their products and about the state's requirements that the mercury be recycled. Manufacturers must also report information about mercury lamp sales and recycling to MassDEP for the agency to determine the recycling rate for these products.