As a lighting manufacturer, what can we do to minimise our products impact on the environment?
From a manufacturer’s perspective sustainability can be divided into two key categories, the operation of factories and their environmental impact is crucial, however given the quantity and power consumption of products manufactured the most significant environmental impact lies in the longevity, energy efficiency and serviceability of our luminaires. With the latter the lighting industry has evolved into a two tiered industry with very different approaches to sustainability.
Whilst there are exceptions in all instances it is fair to say that the majority of lower cost imported products have little consideration for longevity and serviceability. Products are commonly completely sealed making replacement of old components impossible, forcing complete replacement of the luminaire in the event of failure. Where products are accessible the components used are often obscure or unbranded and therefore difficult or impossible to source. As a general rule component lifetimes are short and luminaires are designed to be disposed of and replaced in full in the event any single component fails. Efficiency is often compromised for the sake of cost, even where improved efficiency would provide a substantial payback over the product lifetime. When the environmental impact of transporting such luminaires across the globe is also considered it is clear that such an approach is inconsistent with that which is needed if climate and environmental crisis is to be avoided.
The approach of many European manufactures differs substantially where products are often made with premium components offering 100,000 operating hour lifetimes and such components are easily sourced in the event of failure. Luminaires are generally designed to be easily accessed to undertake such repairs, recent EU legislation has reinforced the need for luminaires to be designed with this approach. Although the manufacturing costs of such luminaires are typically higher, the lifetime and power efficiency they offer ensures that the lifetime cost is substantially lower.
Sustainability in the UK lighting market must primarily be driven by clients considering the total lifetime cost of ownership of their products and a willingness to invest more at the outset in products with a focus on serviceability and efficiency rather than simply costs. Equally, manufacturers must continue to develop luminaires which have these elements at the core of their design ethos and advance product lifetime and ease of component replacement wherever possible.
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