Despite recent alarm bells ringing from certain sections of the lighting industry, neon signs do have a future but there will have to be changes to maintain this.
Next year (2019), the use of mercury in neon signs would be banned under the RoHS Regulations. An exemption to these regulations set out in 2015 for neon signs would end in December 2018, and no application for an extension had beensubmitted.It seemed, therefore,that the use of mercury in the manufacture of neon tubes and signs would have to cease at the end of 2018 throughout all of Europe.
David Derbyshire, President of the BSGA, said that this is not a good situation for glass shops or sign companies that were seeing a boom in the use of internal exposed neon in shops, restaurants, bars and many other projects. From 2019it would it be a case of “You can have any colour you like – so long as it is red or pink”
David is pleased to announce that that after much consultationand challenging work by colleagues in the industry,along with the BSGA , this is ban will now notapply for the majority of neon signs. He said “A close re-read of the exemption application and the consultants’ report to the European Commission, highlighted some issues.”
“It is true that individual low voltage cold cathode lighting lamps containing mercury should no longer be produced after December 2018. However, high voltage signs using mercury lamps are currently outside the scope of the RoHS Regulations, as are “large installations”. So, if the sign uses more than 1000V to drive the lamps, RoHS does not apply”.David went on to say that BSGA research has found that the clear majority of neon sign installations fall into this category of over 1000V
All well and good for the high voltage neon sign industry– for now.
But what of the future? It is clear that this situation will eventually change as the BSGA, and their European colleagues in the European Sign Federation (ESF), expect that at some point, an Authority will say “But what about high voltage neon signs with mercury?” and set about including them in the ban.
With this possibility in mind, the BSGA and others are currently working with the ESF to formulate a plan of action and registration system for glass shops and installers of neon called EcoNeon. The intention is to have a system of auditing fabrication techniques, accounting for materials used, waste disposaletc. in place to defend the continued useof mercury in neon signs. This will benefit those businesses engaged in this industry.“The aim is to go toward demonstrating to the European Authorities that neon signs need not be included within the mercury ban” said David.
David concluded with “The key to this happening will be for the people who make, install and sell neon signs and artwork to take an active role to defend their livelihood and the market for neon signs”.
The BSGA ask that if you want to play your part in protecting and promoting neon signs in the future, or require further information, contact the BSGA’s Technical Committee Chairman Mike Hall at [email protected]
The BSGA will announce any further developments as and when they happen