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Neon wins a reprieve

Neon wins a reprieve


The sign industry can now breath a collective sigh of relieve, secure in the knowledge that the future of neon signs is safe – at least until 2020 – thanks to the efforts of the BSGA and ESF.

European legislators had intended to include HLDT (handcrafted linear discharge tubes) – better known as neon – within the scope of new RoHS regulations. This would have limited the amount of mercury that could be used and effectively restricted the colour of neon signs to just red.

However, following some tough negotiating with mandarins from the Council of Europe, the British Sign and Graphics Association (BSGA), together with colleagues from the European Sign Federation (ESF), has secured an exemption that will benefit the UK sign industry and manufacturers of neon signs.

The exemption means that neon signs can continue to be made, subject to a maximum of 80mg of mercury being used. This means that neon signmakers can continue to produce a wide pallet of colours and supply their customers’ needs without fear of breaking European law.

Mike Hall, Chairman of the BSGA Technical Committee, is extremely pleased that the industry’s concerns have been addressed.He said: “If we had failed to win the exemption, it could possibly have rung the death knell for neon signs.

Dealing with the Council of Europe was never going to be straight forward, but we had an extremely good case and, with perseverance, we managed to get through to them and gain the necessary backing.”

The exemption will serve the sign industry until 2020.

He continued“It is widely known that under the Minamata Convention the use of mercury will be banned entirelyby the year 2020. However, now that we have this exemption in place, we have a good argument to get it extended beyond that date.

“Neon is a small but key part of our industry and it needs protection. We must continue work to see that there are controls in place across the industry to ensure correct processing, that the correct amount of mercury is used to produce eco-quality neon, and that lamps perform correctly.”

Further details will be released to BSGA Members when available.

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