Moving towards circular economy principles in lighting manufacture
The lighting industry, like most industries, currently operates a linear manufacturing model with constant production. The process of continually manufacturing new products using new materials contributes to the take-make-waste approach to consumption that is damaging our planet irreversibly.
We recently became members of the Light Industry Association (LIA). The LIA is committed to helping its members share industry expertise, knowledge and manage compliance. The organisation advocates for the circular economy and moving towards a sustainable and less wasteful way of operating.
Joining the LIA gives us access to the largest independent test laboratory in Europe for lighting. They provide a wide range of UKAS accredited tests to meet product compliance standards and their photometry department allows us to validate product performance claims.
The testing and accreditation services provided by the LIA enable us to produce energy efficient products with lasting performance. Our membership is supporting us to understand the impact of our production processes. We are also signed up to the Recolight WEEE compliant recycling scheme.
Going beyond this, we are designing new products with reuse in mind. Reusing, rather than recycling, uses far less energy and materials. It prevents perfectly good luminaires becoming redundant and saves time and resources. The reuse of lighting products is a core principle of the circular economy for lighting.
The circular economy for lighting – set out by the LIA
A circular economy aims to gradually separate economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and to design waste out of the system. It is underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources.
It is based on three principles:
1. Design out waste and pollution
2. Keep products and materials in use
3. Regenerate natural systems
Here’s how we can start moving towards this way of operating:
• Designing repairable luminaires with longer technical lifetimes
• Upgrading luminaries to improve their performance and save energy
• Recycling replaced and redundant parts wherever possible
• Future-proofing luminaires and giving them longer economic lifetimes
• Creating serviceable luminaires
• Repairs and upgrades to lighting control systems to enhance their functionality
• Giving lighting control systems software and/or firmware upgrades
• Using efficient lighting technologies
None of these changes can happen overnight, but it is our goal to keep them in mind for current and future projects. Simple changes, like reusing and upgrading luminaires is a good place to start. We have recently launched a luminaire reuse service, where we fix and upgrade old functioning luminaries.
This could include installing a more efficient LED module or adding a presence sensor to the luminaire. These changes provide the required upgrades without the scrapping and waste of the original product.
Looking to the future, the circular economy provides opportunities for new business models and new jobs. The option of serviceable and repairable luminaires provides another point of interaction between manufacturers and their customers, allowing for ongoing services.
At Kemps, we are taking steps to design and manufacture new products in line with these principles. Part of this involves making use of the LIA’s testing facilities. They assess our prototypes and provide us with efficiency and performance stats for us to improve and clearly market our products.
Learning more about the circular economy and taking steps to adopt the principles is just the start. We hope to evolve our operations to better serve our customers and the wider industry. Want to know more about our reuse service, or perhaps you have an energy efficient lighting requirement? Talk to us
Here Mark Kemp talks about the projects and product launches that have got the team through 2021.