The climate crises presents a huge challenge to us all. Changes are needed at Governmental levels, but businesses can do a lot to make a difference.
One crucial change that is needed is to fully embrace and adopt Circular Economy principles.
Legislative changes and customer requirements are placing greater emphasis on lighting that is truly sustainable – products that are not just energy efficient, but which are also resource efficient. As a result, we need to keep products in use for longer, rather than simply discarding them, or needlessly recycling them.
At Recolight, we recycle, but recycling is not always the best solution as we move towards a Circular Economy model.
Recolight has worked with the lighting industry for several years to help drive adoption of the Circular Economy. The company has launched key initiatives to provide information, practical guidance, and services.
Recolight webinars focus on the Circular Economy. With over 50 presenters, from across the lighting industry, we have learnt that our industry needs to do far more to be genuinely sustainable.
CIRCULAR LIGHTING LIVE
One-day conference and exhibition, bringing together leading experts and policy makers. Key takeaways are: forthcoming standards and legislation, emerging technologies and new circular economy business models.
LIGHTING PRODUCT DESIGN
One day workshops to discuss the design criteria, regulations, and standards to help lighting manufacturers apply and demonstrate circular economy principles in luminaire development.
CIRCULAR LIGHTING REPORT
The industry’s online hub for all sustainability matters, edited by Ray Molony. It brings together sustainability news, interviews, and updates from across the lighting industry.
Reuse of used lighting: To help encourage re-use, rather than recycling, we can provide data regarding used fittings being removed to potential remanufacturers. Fittings can be delivered free of charge to remanufacturers in the UK. The remanufacturer takes ownership and responsibility for product thereafter including compliance.
Surplus new lighting: Many manufacturers hold unsold stock. Recolight make it easy for a manufacturer to hand over new surplus lighting to third-parties that can put the product to good use.
Lighting has done a lot to promote sustainability. LED products have longer lifetimes, greater system efficacies, are more flexible and controllable, and vitally do not contain mercury.
There is still a great deal that we must all do but it is good to recognise that change is in the air.
The reuse or disposal of end-of-life equipment should be an integral part of all LED luminaire replacement projects. Not just for legislative compliance, but also to meet the sustainability and corporate social responsibility requirements.
To increase the reuse and recycling rates specifiers should insist that producers take responsibility for recycling of the waste luminaires that arise. An even better environmental outcome is for the luminaires to be LED retrofitted in situ.
End users want to know more than just how the lighting will be reused or recycled. Increasingly, they are asking producers for the percentage of components and complete fittings that can be recycled, and the percentage of recycled material used in the manufacture.
Where reuse is not possible, for technical or commercial reasons, recycling is the next best option.
The waste hierarchy quite rightly puts recycling below prevention, repair, and reuse. To drive improved sustainability in the lighting sector, we must get much better at applying the waste hierarchy. That means prioritising repair and reuse above recycling. Historically in our industry, we have regarded getting waste recycled as good enough. We need to change that mentality.
Lamp recycling rates in the UK have grown faster than any other waste electrical equipment category; from 19% in 2008, to 43.1% in 2020. The lighting industry is unique in taking such an effective, sector specific approach to waste and recycling. Electrical contractors, wholesalers and lighting manufacturers can be proud of this recycling record and contribution to sustainability.
The WEEE regulations set a target for recovery and recycling that must be achieved by an Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (AATF).
The recycling rate achieved by Recolight’s contracted recyclers comfortably exceed the recycling and recovery requirements set in the WEEE regulations:
Recycling rate: Percentage of material recovered during the recycling process.
Recovery rate: Percentage of material recovered including energy recovery during the recycling process.
The breakdown of raw materials recovered after treatment of a typical load of luminaires has been independently assessed: