Why we are now providing luminaire compliance and recycling

A luminaire recycling rate of just 0.6%

The Government’s data shows that the recycling rate for business luminaires in 2012 was just 0.6%.  What that means is that virtually all waste luminaires are either being collected through informal channels such as scrap dealers, or are going to landfill.  A few may also be re-used or refurbished.  Given that waste luminaires contain valuable materials like aluminium, copper and steel, the majority are probably being recycled in some way.  But only 0.6% go through the WEEE system.

Why we need to increase the recycling rate

Should we in the lighting industry be concerned?  Yes.  Absolutely yes.

  • If we have no data to show what is happening to waste luminaires, we cannot know what proportion are being recycled.
  • If they are recycled as scrap, we have no confidence that this is being done to the applicable standard, the Environment Agency BATRRT (Best Available Treatment Recovery and Recycling Techniques).
  • There is a risk that waste could be exported unrecycled, to the third world.  The TV documentary maker, Panorama, has already exposed the problem of UK electrical waste appearing on waste dumps in West Africa.
  • Perhaps most worryingly, it is very likely that some waste luminaires are sent as scrap still containing waste fluorescent lamps.  After all, it is far easier and quicker to leave the lamps in place, than to take the time to remove them properly, and to arrange for them to be collected separately.  That would result in uncontrolled mercury release, and illegal treatment of the lamps they contain.

Recolight’s luminaire commitment

So how do we improve the situation? Recolight has launched a luminaire WEEE compliance service to tackle the issue.  Our industry needs to increase recorded luminaire recycling rates, and Recolight is putting practical steps in place to achieve that.

  • As our industry moves towards integrated LED luminaires, so increasingly, the supply of LED luminaires will result in both wastes.   During 2013 we started to offer co-collection of waste lamps and luminaires.  One visit and two waste streams collected and recycled.
  • We have also made the collection of waste luminaires much simpler.  One phone call from our members’ customers is all that is needed to arrange a collection, provided there is a minimum quantity.
  • We are also helping our members to put in place product return mechanisms to ensure luminaires are returned and then recorded correctly.

But to implement the transformation our industry deserves, we need more luminaire producers to join the Recolight compliance scheme.  Without partners to join us, we will not be able to make a difference.  So contact us on 020 8253 9750 to help us increase the luminaire recycling rate.

Suzanne Castine

Marketing Manager, Recolight - www.recolight.co.uk - As well as being in charge of effective communication and driving up membership of the Recolight WEEE scheme, Suzanne is chair of the Eucolight Marketing and Communication working group; a platform for sharing best practice with EU member state Producer Compliance Schemes.



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