Circular Lighting Report

Destruction of unsold lights escapes ban

Destruction of new lights escapes ban

The practice of destroying unsold and superseded lighting and other electronic technology has escaped a threatened ban in Europe.

EU legislators agreed to outlaw the destruction of unsold textiles but not electronics in the latest iteration of the body’s flagship Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR).

The European Environmental Bureau, a network of environmental citizens’ organisations in Europe, said it lamented the twofold failure to rule out the wasteful destruction of unsold electronics and provide a credible enforcement regime for products sold online.

The Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) is a revamp and extension of the existing Ecodesign and energy labelling framework, which only applies to electrical appliances including lighting products.

The new regulation will put in place minimum requirements such as efficiency, durability and recyclability for almost any product on the EU market. However, during the negotiations, some products such as military equipment and motor vehicles were removed from the scope of the rules.

The regulation includes provisions to ensure the traceability of harmful substances in products, and the possibility to restrict them when they are a barrier to recycling or have a negative impact on human health.

Environmental groups described the destruction of unsold electronics as a ‘rampant market practice and one of the most environmentally harmful in Europe’.

Figures for the lighting industry are not available. Observers say the destruction of lighting products is less common than in consumer electronics. Instead, superseded lighting products tend to be heavily discounted or end up on the so-called ‘grey market’.

Green NGOs and lobbyists have previously called for an immediate EU-wide halt to the destruction of unsold goods under the ESPR, but the European Commission and national governments’ representatives within the Council refused to take this forward.

Lawmakers also neglected the growing challenge of applying EU standards to products sold online and imported to the EU from abroad. European industries and campaigners are concerned about the influx of goods from major online retailers like Amazon, Shein and Temu.

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Ray Molony

Recolight Report is an independent guide to the latest developments in sustainable and circular lighting. Learn about the people, products, projects and processes that are shaping our industry’s low carbon future. Plus: explainers on the latest innovations, opinion from thought leaders and video interviews with leading disruptors. Edited by lighting expert, editor and industry figure Ray Molony.