Closing the Lighting Loop

The lighting industry has always been at the forefront of supplying products that are energy efficient.  But energy efficiency is now largely a given. To be truly sustainable, lighting needs to go beyond energy efficiency, by addressing material efficiency and embodied carbon, as we all strive to achieve net zero. 

Nigel Harvey, Chief Executive of lighting WEEE compliance scheme Recolight, talks us through how lighting can be part of the solution to reducing carbon.

Waste hierarchy

The waste industry operates a waste hierarchy that is still very applicable to lighting. It is effectively a simple aid to decision making that orders strategies according to their impact on the environment. 


At the top of the hierarchy is “Reduce”.  That means not buying new lighting if the old lighting does the job – or only replacing lighting which is definitely inefficient and cannot be upgraded.  And of course, using daylight wherever possible, both to reduce the number of lights that are installed, and to reduce the amount of time they are in use.


There is a growing number of UK lighting companies that offer reuse or upgrade services to enhance the efficiency of installed lighting, for example by retrofitting LED light sources in fluorescent fittings. Industry estimates indicate that such upgrades typically have half the embodied carbon of a new product.  Such upgrades can either be undertaken at the lighting company, or in situ at the customer’s premises.  A new code of practice, BS8887, is being finalised, that will provide a model for such operations, and should provide greater confidence to end users that remanufacture can be undertaken reliably and consistently.

Recolight Reuse Hub

To facilitate reuse, Recolight has launched the Recolight Reuse Hub.  This is a free to use lighting digital marketplace to facilitate the donation of new and used lighting products and equipment. Currently, there are considerable volumes of new and used lighting products that are needlessly recycled when they could be reused.  The Recolight Reuse Hub allows donors of such products to link up with potential recipients; companies that could use the donated products, and so avoid unnecessary recycling or disposal.  


All too often, we assume that if old lighting is replaced with new lighting, we are meeting our environmental obligations if the waste fittings recycled.  That thinking needs to change.  Recycling is rightly near the bottom of the waste hierarchy.  That is because recycling destroys much of the embodied carbon in a product, and simply recovers the raw materials.  All the energy involved in the manufacture, supply and distribution of the products is lost.  An extreme example is of mobile phones, where 85-95% of their carbon emissions are in the production phase, and the value of the raw materials that can be recovered is typically less than one pound.

About Recolight 

Recolight is the leading UK WEEE compliance scheme for the lighting industry, taking on responsibility for its Members’ WEEE compliance, giving their customers access to the UK’s most comprehensive free lamp collection and recycling service, and helping to ensure that as many lamps as possible are kept out of landfill.

Recolight’s comprehensive offering makes it the preferred WEEE scheme for the lighting industry, setting the standard for the sector. It is the only WEEE compliance scheme in the UK to provide integrated Lamp and Luminaire collection and recycling. It has the biggest UK-wide network of collection points for all WEEE lighting. As a result, since its founding in 2007, Recolight has funded the recycling of over 370 million lamps, LEDs and luminaires, more than all other UK WEEE schemes put together. 

Recycling isn’t always the best solution, Recolight go beyond recycling. 

Working with the lighting industry, Recolight offer support and services to help their Producer Members transition to a Circular Economy. With a Re-Use Service, workshops, webinars, Circular Lighting report, and Circular Lighting Live, Recolight is the Compliance Scheme that gives much more.

Event Diary

This year, Total Telecom’s Connected Britain is celebrating its 10th anniversary, marking a decade of networking, innovation, and collaboration. The conference is now the UK’s largest digital economy event, set to welcome over 7,500 delegates from the telecoms industry and beyond to discuss the hottest topics at ExCel London on September 11–12. 

DTX brings together creative minds and technology practitioners with the tools needed to drive change, enhance experiences and improve efficiencies across today’s organisations.

The countdown to the Environmental Services & Solutions Expo (ESS Expo) is on! As the UK’s largest environmental gathering, ESS Expo is set to take place on 11-12 September 2024 at the NEC, Birmingham.