The Lighting Industry And A Circular Economy
- Published: Tuesday, 23 February 2016 07:30
A circular economy moves away from products that are made, used, and then landfilled. Instead, resources are kept in use for as long as possible, and then recovered to make new products.
So can this be applied in the lighting industry? We need to consider how products are made, what they are made with, and what happens to them when they reach the end of their life. Key issues to tackle are:
• Increase the use of materials derived from recycled sources, and reduce dependence on virgin sources. Purchasing recycled materials helps to make recycling more sustainable.
• Product design should be modular, or upgradeable. Avoid fully integrated LED luminaires that must be discarded if a single component fails.
• Assess the recyclability of materials used when making products. Which can be recycled, and which materials should be phased out? Avoid combining materials (e.g. plastics and metals) in a way that it reduces their recyclability.
• Offer to collect the electrical waste that arises when your customers install your products. Some WEEE compliance schemes, such as Recolight, will offer to do this for you. Your customer benefits, and the waste can be used to comply with the WEEE regulations.
• Contracting on a “Pay per lux” basis can facilitate re-use and recycling when fittings are upgraded at contract end.
• Check if you can re-use components when taking back used or faulty products. Glass covers, enclosures, and heat sinks may be good candidates.
• Power factories from renewable sources, and set a zero waste target.