According to foreign media reports, North Western Energy, an American energy company, is equipping 43,000 street lamps in Montana with new energy-saving bulbs and recycling old and potentially dangerous lamps.
Falling prices have made LED street lamps an economical and effective option, especially as manufacturers warn that traditional high-pressure sodium lamps may soon be out of supply.
Recycling old lamps is not simply dumped in landfills, because some of them contain mercury. The EPA says that if animals eat high doses of mercury, they may grow slowly, reproduce less and die.
"A high-pressure sodium lamp contains 15 milligrams of mercury," the person in charge said. "It seems relatively insignificant, but on a larger scale, 43,000 street lamps combined, you can see that this harmful substance will become an environmental problem."
But recycling old lights is not free. Part of the cost of the project is estimated at $120,000, and the average price of each lamp is nearly $3.
The energy company expects to continue its four-year, $24 million replacement program in several other parts of Montana next year.