The Chinese government has recently been restricting exports of rare earth elements, and the policy changes are affecting the global markets for everything from compact fluorescent light bulbs to iPhones.
China controls 97% of the world’s supply of rare earth metals – 17 elements that are vital to the electronics, defense, and renewable energy industries.
Due to China’s export caps, the cost to manufacture fluorescent light bulbs is skyrocketing. (Standard compact fluorescent light bulbs require a phosphor coating inside their glass envelopes to create light, and phosphor is made from rare earth elements).
Earlier this month, China eased some of the export curbs, but the European Union and the United States were not satisfied that the change would be enough to restore stable supplies. The higher cost of rare earth elements will affect the cost of all fluorescent light bulbs, CFLs included.