CFLi can’t be described as “Environmentally Friendly”

Posted March 26, 2010 // Tagged as Blog // 9 Comments ↓

Following nearly a years work by  Kristján Gunnar Kristjánsson <> the Icelandic consumer authority have banned Osram from claiming that CFLi are environmentally friendly and that an 11W CFLi is equal to a 60W incandescent lamp. The decision was handed down yesterday and as soon as it is translated I will be posting it on here. Now, who is going to make a similar complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK?

Here is a translation of the decision, the full text is available as a PDF in the downloads page:

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Johann Olafsson & Co. inc, Krókhálsi 3, Reykjavik, has by declaring that energy savers are environmentally friendly in an advertising brochure about OSRAM energy savers broken against 5th article, 2nd paragraph of 6th article, 1. paragraph of 8th article and 2 paragraph of 9th article of law no . 57 from 2005 about supervision of business practices and marketing.

Johann Olafsson & Co inc. has by suggesting in an advertising brochure about OSRAM energy savers that 11W energy savers give out comparable light quantity to 60W incandescent light bulbs broken against 5th article, 2nd paragraph of 6th article, 1st paragraph of 8th article and 2 paragraph of 9th article of law no 57 from 2005 about supervision of business practices and marketing.

With reference to 2 paragraph of 21st article of b law no 57 from 2005 on supervision of business practices and marketing is Johann Olafsson & Co. prohibited to publish advertising and statements saying that energy savers are environmentally friendly and prohibited to publish advertising where it is suggested that 11W energy savers give out an equivalent light quantity to 60W incandescent light bulbs.

The ban takes effect on the publishing of the ruling.  If the ruling is not adhered to it can be expected that decision on fines will be taken, based on IX chapter of law no 57/2005 on supervision of business practices and marketing.

consumer agency March 26th. 2010

Tryggvi Axelsson


9 Responses

  1. Arnar Thor Hafthorsson

    March 31st, 2010 at 15:57

    Good afternoon

    My name is Arnar Þór Hafþórsson and I´m the Sales- and Marketing Manager for Jóhann Ólafsson Co., the commercial agent for OSRAM in Iceland, since 1948.

    I just want to point out a few things regarding this ruling.

    First of all, this has nothing to do with product packaging from OSRAM. This has to do with a small pamphlet that we distributed in August last year and was intened to help people to see what options they have in choosing CFL lamps, compared to incandescent lamps and to dispel some myths about CFL lamps.

    The impending EU ban was the catalyst for this pamphlet and even though the ban was not imposed in Iceland, on the 1.sept 2009, the effect would surely be (are being) felt in Iceland.

    Secondly, the ruling states that it´s not allowed to use the term „umhverfisvænar“ (environmentally friendly) for CFL lamps.

    The reason? The Icelandic Consumer Agency uses the excact phrasing listed in The Icelandic Dictionary for the term „umhverfisvænar“ (environmentally friendly)

    There it stands that the term „umhverfisvænn“ (environmentally friendly)- „… means something that does not pollute or contaminate the nature or biosphere” and since CFL lamps contains small amount of mercury, that exact term can not be used in this sense and we can agree to that.

    It´s also worth mentioning that the ruling says that CFL lamps are MORE environmentally than incandescent lamps. But since this ruling has to do with the use of the term „umhverfisvænn“ (environmentally friendly) this is not relevant in this case, but should be noted.

    We could therefore possibly use the phrase „.. more environmentally friendly …“
    It´s similiar to that you can not use the phrase that something is best but you can say that something is better then …

    Thirdly, it´s not allowed to state that 11W CFL lamp are equivalent to 60W incandescent lamp.

    Nowhere in the pamphlet is this stated but a table with wattages for CFL lamps and then for incandescent lamps is shown as an indicator of the nearest lumen output a CFL can give compared to a specified incandescent lamp.

    Those who have studied this will know that you can get a normal (at lease from OSRAM) 11W CFL lamp with a lumen output of 680 lm, compared to the 710 lumen output of a 60W incandescent.
    The difference is 4% but it´s still a difference and we don´t argue with that.

    If you use a 14W CFL lamp then you have a output of 860 lumen which I think you can agree is a considerably higher then 710 lumen of a 60W incandescent lamp – a slight overkill I would say.

    The ruling is not final but the intention was not to mislead or decieve the consumer but to inform them. We want to improve so we take the comments and points, this ruling has, and correct our pamphlet and other marketing information where required.

    I want to repeat that this has nothing to do with packaging or anything else from OSRAM, this was done by us and us alone.

    As a final note I would like to point out that the only information, education and other actions in raising general awareness about the EU ban, in Iceland, and the pros and cons of CFL lamps vs incandescent lamps has been done by us.

    The Illuminating Engineering Society of Iceland (LFI), Icelandic members of The International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) and Professional Lighting Designers Association (PLDA) (I know there is at least one member in the PLDA, not sure if there are more) have done nothing to increase the awareness of this issue or help the general consumer be more aware about this matter and what effects this can/will have on them.

    There have been no constructive discussion or unbiased articles reagrding this matter from The Illuminating Engineering Society of Iceland or Icelandic lighting designers in general. The few, emotional, articles that have been written are about how terrible the CFL lamp is and how stupid the EU is imposing this ban. These articles are filled with half truths, and important facts and figures are left out, so the consumer is left behind, even more confusing then before.

    Jóhann Ólafsson & Co. has been selling lamps in Iceland since 1948 so it should be clear that we don´t have anything against the incandescent lamp, since these lamps have been the backbone of our business for more then 60 years and we would be happy to continue selling them.

    We neither oppose or support the EU ban, we just want to educate and inform the consumer about the facts and figures regarding this issue and what options are on the table and possible next steps and development on this market.

    I would think that that all respectable organisations, or people, that want to be taken serious about this issue, should have this as their mission.

    Best regards,
    Arnar Þór Hafþórsson
    Sales- and Marketing Manager
    Jóhann Ólafsson & Co
    Krókhálsi 3
    IS 110 Reykjavík

  2. Kristján Gunnar Kristjánsson

    April 1st, 2010 at 10:26

    Hi Kevan I would like to comment on what Arnar Hafþórsson from Osram Iceland had to say.

    The ruling goes for every advertisieing that is made by Jóhann Ólafsson Co, Osram agent in Iceland for CLF bulbs. Osram has been advertiseing in every newspaper, magazines, tv commerical and with small pamphlet since last sumer. The pamphlet and the commericals were full of wrong information and as an professional light designer I was obliged to take this to the consumer agency

    The Icelandic consumers law is hard on how the word enviromentally friendly is used and Osram has been using it a lot both in commericals and brohures and have made arguments standing with that claim.

    In Iceland incandesent bulbs are much more envitomentally friendly then cfl lamps because we use green energy and CLF contains mercury thought it is in small amount many small makes a one big and we dont have the machinery to recyle it.

    And If they will use the phrase… “more environmentally friendly than indcandescent bulbs” in other countrys that use coal or oil to make energy then I dont mind ?

    It always troubles me to see how bulb manufactures compair bulbs, they never take into account that the lumen output from CLF lamps decreases over time. If we take marking of independent research like studies made by Vito and the the llluminating Engineering Society of Skandinaiva the true comparsion is 60w to 15w and It looks like the only people that use 60w to 11w are lamp manufactuers and in the ruling this was taken beliveble, and a wrong comparison was not allowed.
    The fact is it has been very hard for anything to get published here in Iceland with the right info becuse Osram advertise so much and the publishers don´t want to scare them away this is a fact I discovered myself. Also the Illuminating Engineering Society of Iceland did send out brouchers made by the Danish Illuminating Engineering Society with information about the ban and what should come to replace it. The llluminating engineering society has held one confernce on the subject and the techincal college of Reykjavík also has held one where myself and Arnar from Osram did talk about the future of light design, pros and cons of bulbs, funny that he forgot about that.

    There have been few published articals in newspapers in Iceland most of them are about rash thinking of EU on the bulb ban these articles are based on independent research and have had very positive feedback.
    I think it is good that Jóhann Ólafsson & co wants to inform the consumer about the bulb ban , but I think they, as any other, should be careful to use the right information
    Best regards Kristján Kristjánsson Light designer

  3. Arnar Þór Hafþórsson

    April 7th, 2010 at 12:17

    Hello Kristjan

    Without going into much detail, there are a few misstatements in your answer.

    We haven´t advertised in “every newspaper, magazines, and tv commercials even though we would like to.
    We´re a small company and unfortunately we can´t afford an extensive market campaign but we try our best.

    The nature of incandescent lamps doesn´t not change between countries. It´s the electricity generation that is environmentally friendly in Iceland.

    Don´t forget that the lumen output of incandescent lamps also decreases significantly over its 1000 h. lifetime.

    The point, that it has been very hard for anything to get published in Iceland, due to our “massive” advertising and the fearsome grip we have on publishers
    is at best laughable, at the worst, plain stupid and an outright lie.

    The Illuminating Engineering Society of Iceland did send out some brouchers,made by the Danish Illuminating Engineering Society.
    The brochure was in Danish. It was a general brochure about how you can use light and light sources in an energy efficient way. It had nothing to do
    with the EU ban. It was only sent out to the members of the The Illuminating Engineering Society of Iceland – they are approx 250.

    The Illuminating Engineering Society of Iceland did not hold the conference regarding the possible effect of the EU ban in Iceland.
    It was the Icelandic Technical College that had the initiative and invited several different speakers.
    The Illuminating Engineering Society of Iceland had nothing to do with this.

    I also like to mention one thing.
    It´s undisputed that CFL lamps use less energy then incandescent lamps. There have been talks, in Iceland, that we need to build new aluminium plant/s
    to boost our economy. But since our current energy/electricity production is not enough to power these plant/s we need to build new power station.

    By changing over to more energy saving alternatives, we reduce our energy consumption and might be able to prevent the construction of more power plants.

    If there is something that is NOT environmentally friendly, then that is aluminium plants and power stations all over Iceland.

    Arnar Þór Hafþórsson

  4. Kevan Shaw

    April 7th, 2010 at 17:10


    i am afraid that i have to pick up on some of your comments in reply to Kristjan.

    1 No the nature of incandescent lamps doesn’t change from country to country and when the energy in use is taken out of consideration they are on all fronts less polluting than CFLi

    2 The lumen depreciation of incandescent lamps is very low over life, less than 5% for a good quality gas filled lamp and less again for a Tungsten Halogen lamp. With CFLi manufacturers are reluctant to quote the real lumen depreciation. figures are available from Osram suggesting that the lumen output is 85% of initial output at 2500 hours. Commercially a lamp with lumen output at 80% is considered end of life in most situations. At what point in the life of a CFLi is output reduced to 80%? What is the lumen output at 6000 hours? This life for CFLi refers to 50% failures. if the lamp is less than 70% as bright is it bright enough to fulfill its task? In most cases, even in the domestic environment, the answer is no.

    3 I would strongly suggest that you look at the potential for energy saving by changing from incandescent lamps to CFLi in Iceland then look at the power required for a single smelter. You will find that the saving is a tiny fraction of the energy required to drive a smelter therefore this change in Iceland will not save the construction of any power plants! Please refer to the paper by Halldor Steinsen to properly understand the actual negative environmental impacts of CFLi in Iceland

    Kevan Shaw,

  5. peter

    May 7th, 2010 at 11:53

    “By changing over to more energy saving alternatives, we reduce our energy consumption and might be able to prevent the construction of more power plants.”
    Another well trodden argument.
    Except: Who is choosing to pay for the energy and power plants used?

    Given that incandescents have many different qualities from the pushed alternatives including CFLs,
    then people can choose to pay extra for using whatever they want.
    Building a power station is no worse than building a factory to make a nice shirt you want to wear,
    rather than wearing sackcloth.
    – especially if that power station gives no emissions.

    We can live in caves and use candles
    – and save all of the power station building.
    We can also see to it that whatever energy that is demanded is delivered, with whatever emission criteria needed.

  6. Kevan Shaw

    May 10th, 2010 at 08:44


    it is an even more specious argument when it comes to Iceland where the majority of electricity generated is going to aluminium smelting! The proportion of domestic used electricity is tiny so there is no way that there is any necessity to build new power plants specifically for domestic use!


  7. peter

    May 10th, 2010 at 10:41

    Good point Kevan
    the power plant building argument is just another of those political
    wave-your-arms-around-and-use -physical-language-people-understand drama arguments for many other reasons too…

    As the below link talks about,
    even in Australia where it’s nearly all coal the power plant building argument is still wrong,
    power delivery is mainly about considering peak power needs, ie that smaller plants feed in at such time (smaller plants that might suitably be wind/solar powered, for that matter)…
    and the CO2 issue can seemingly be looked at in many other ways too…

  8. peter

    May 12th, 2010 at 11:53

    The above link goes into why the power plant argument is wrong
    but it can be put rather simply too:
    What the USA and EU politicians do is they say
    X % electricity saving a year amounts to “Y number of power plants” over a 30 year period

    This is like an Edinburgh councillor saying
    “Kevan, if we reduce the number of school hours in a year,
    think of the savings over a 30 year period!
    We wont need to build so many schools!

    The further point of course is that they mess up
    incandescent lighting percentage of TOTAL electricity use:

    They rightly put in industry etc,
    which pushes domestic use well down (as you also say)
    but as you know they include all industrial and street lighting which is
    not incandescent in the first place, nor are household kitchen fluorescent high usage lights

    In other words:
    Incandescent light use,
    as a proportion of ALL energy demand from a power station,
    is a very small amount,
    and those lights are moreover replaced by lights that themselves use electricity, whatever about the amounts
    supposedly saved in that insignificant switchover process

  9. Jesse

    April 21st, 2011 at 20:40

    Think I have to agree with Peter here. Incandescent lights dont seem to be used that much here in the UK as opposed to other forms of lighting. At least in my flat there’s rarely one one but computers are a different story.

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