Remanufacturing lighting

Nigel Harvey, CEO of Recolight, discusses the uptake of remanufacturing lighting equipment

All too often, we think that getting products recycled means we have “done our bit” for the environment. But recycling is near the bottom of the waste hierarchy. Recycling destroys most of the embodied carbon in an electrical product, and should only be used if reuse, repair and remanufacture are not possible.

One of the biggest barriers to reuse of lighting equipment is the perception that customer demand is limited. Clients, both corporate and public sector, are however now warming to the concept of reconditioned lights to achieve both sustainability goals and cost savings.

And now tenders are beginning to emerge which specify the reconditioning and reuse of luminaires in a project. The more end users include reused or remanufactured product as an option in specifications, the more we will see producers offering these solutions.

An increasing number of lighting manufacturers now offer to upgrade existing lighting products to LED. These upgrades can sometimes be performed in situ, without the need for the fittings to return to a factory. That means the fittings and or their housings themselves can be kept in service. That in turn improves material efficiency, and should avoid the loss of much of the embedded carbon. And the commercials can work too. There have been great examples of remanufactured product that is more cost effective, and more energy efficient for the end user, and with better margins for the producer.

Upgrades can be performed in situ.

A version of BS8887 for lighting is currently in development which will help producers remanufacture products in a consistent manner. It will also give customers confidence that remanufactured products are compliant and fit for purpose.

It is important to purchase from lighting producers committed to applying the waste hierarchy and to proper recycling. For example, is the producer a member of a WEEE scheme (like Recolight) which offers free of charge collection from their members’ customers (subject to appropriate criteria), and which looks for reuse options before the decision is taken to recycle?