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Lumicom:Taking The Hassle Out Of Waste Management

LampsAs waste management requirements become increasingly strict, anyone involved in the management of the lighting refurbishment project needs to ensure they are aware of the requirements, says Peter Hunt of Lumicom

Clearly the priority for any lighting refurbishment project is to ensure that the system is designed properly and the products are installed correctly. Increasingly though the planning of any such project also needs to take account of disposal of lighting products that are removed. In fact, the disposal of end-of-life equipment is now an integral part of project management - not just for legislative compliance but also to meet the sustainability criteria of end clients.

As most lighting professionals will be aware by now, the main driver for this comes from the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive – and many will also be familiar with its basic requirements. However, that familiarity may be somewhat outdated as this Directive continues to evolve and to impose more rigorous collection and recycling targets.

Street LightsThis may feel like yet another administrative burden but on the positive side the Directive is making a significant reduction in the volume of lighting waste sent to landfill.

For example, the Environment Agency has published provisional data for the first quarter of 2015 which shows that over 125,000 tonnes of all categories of WEEE were collected for recycling between January and April. This is a good start towards meeting the annual target imposed by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) of 506,878 tonnes of WEEE during 2015.

The figure above refers to all types of waste EEE (Electrical and Electronic Equipment) but it does reflect the year-on-year growth in collection rates for end-of-life lighting products.

Furthermore, these rates are set to grow even further as the Environment Agency’s targets will continue to rise and a new method for setting recycling targets is introduced.

Currently, and up to the end of 2015, recycling targets will be based on a figure of 4kg per head of population. From the beginning of 2016 there will be a new method for setting recycling targets, based on taking a three-year average (2013 to 2015) of the amount of EEE placed on the market. This will then be divided by the population and, from the resulting figure, 45% will need to be recycled. This figure will increase to 65% in 2019.

With specific reference to lighting, from 1 January 2016 until 31 December 2018 there will be a requirement to re-use and recycle 55% of lighting products, other than gas discharge lamps and LED light sources. At least 80% of components, materials and substances from gas discharge lamps and LED light sources will need to be re-used and recycled. These figures are based on the average weight in tonnes of the equipment/lamps.

Another factor that lighting specifiers may already have noticed – and if they haven’t, will do soon – is the increased level of detail demanded in tenders regarding the disposal of waste products. This is especially true of large companies and public sector organisations.

For example, until quite recently a requirement in such tenders would be for proposed suppliers to prove that they were members of a Producer Compliance Scheme (PCS). Increasingly, they now have to also prove that the waste will be disposed of responsibly by providing details of the recovery process. So as clients become more diligent they will also expect a higher level of diligence from their specialist consultants and contractors.

So, with many of these organisations now switching to energy-efficient LED lighting there are growing volumes of old luminaires being removed and these will need to be treated in accordance with the legislation.
There is also growing pressure for a faster turnaround of waste products, so this means that the lighting specification ensure the compliance scheme involved is able to deliver a speedy service. This is particularly true of the retail sector where refurbishment projects are now often carried out overnight so that no selling time is lost. Usually, these establishments do not have the space to store products until the waste contractor gets around to collecting them.

These issues mean that the lighting specifier has an opportunity to add value to the service that is provided to the client, by helping to ensure that all of the key elements are in place for compliant and straightforward waste management.

At the same time, specifiers clearly have plenty of other things to do with the time so they will not want to get involved in the detail, simply to ensure that the appropriate processes are in place.

The easiest way to do this when specifying new luminaires for a refurbishment project is to ensure that the supplier(s) being considered is/are members of a recognised PCS that has experience of dealing with end-of-life lighting products. In this way, disposal becomes straightforward, transparent, incurs no unanticipated costs and is fully auditable.


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