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Theme: lighting

The European take-back directive on waste and the recycling of electrical products could make specifing long-life, energy-efficient and high-output lamps a more effective option

The costs of lamps will increase as a result of new legislation on waste disposal, with a disproportionate amount of the increase falling on current low costs gas-discharge lamps. As a result, architects should advise their clients that the costs of re-lamping could make it more effective in the long term to specify longlife, energy-efficient and high-output lamps.

On 13 February 2003, the European Union published the take-back directive on Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). The purpose was to reduce waste by recycling and to improve the environmental performance of all operators involved in the life cycle - such as producers, distributors and consumers. The directive's environmental background concerns the increasing levels of electrical and electronic waste in Europe, the content of hazardous components in this equipment during waste management (such as landfill and incineration) and that general recycling of WEEE is not undertaken to a sufficient extent.

Producer responsibility A so-called framework directive, the WEEE describes a minimum scenario. A framework directive requires local legislation, meaning it can differ between the member states. Producers, identified as manufacturers selling under their own brand, but also private labels and companies which import, are responsible for the disposal of end-oflife lamps. The organisation can be fulfilled by participation in a collective system or by setting up an individual plan. The government must approve the proposed system where most member states will require a countrywide coverage of the take back systems. Because this requirement is difficult to fulfil in an individual plan, most national associations will propose collective systems.

The policy of the National Lamps Associations is a collective system open to all producers. The recycling costs will be made visible as a separate line on the invoice, with a flat fee for all lamps. It will show cost transparency and should therefore increase acceptability of the cost increase among end-users. It also keeps current price points visible.

Proposed collection and recycling The proposed system covers products for the consumer as well as the professional market.

Collection points will be linked to municipal depots, wholesale outlets, distribution points or a separately organised set-up point. The National Lighting Association heads up the collection and recycling service organisation, which will take responsibility for tasks laid down in the WEEE-directive, such as arranging collection and recycling, communication to the public, provision of data reports to the government, reducing cost over time and the division of costs equal to market share.

All electricity-using products up to 1,000V are affected and there are 10 clearly defined categories, including lighting. For lamps, only gas discharge lamps are included, leaving incandescent and halogen lamps exempt.

Luminaires are also included, with the exception of household units. The luminaire producer is responsible for waste including the ballast and other components.

By 13 August 2005, the take back system has to be active in all member states. But this legislation is not yet available in the UK. All products that fall under the legislation must contain a specific marking (shown) including the differentiation between historical (sold before 13 August 2005) and new waste (sold after 13 August 2005).

The implications Although WEEE costs are less significant for new installations, they are affecting relamping budgets. Due to the flat fee, the percentage increase in the more expensive value-added lamps will be minor, but for the cheaper gas-discharge standard lamps, it will be much more significant. Typical flat fee charges for fluorescent lamps in other European countries are, for example, 31p in Germany and 20p in Sweden.

However, the total cost of ownership (TCO) of lighting will become more beneficial for the value added lamps. As a result, the WEEE directive will indirectly promote the use of long life, energy-efficient and highoutput lamps because fewer are disposed of over time and energy saving will balance the cost increase. It is therefore better for the environment and business to specify initially more expensive - but more efficient - lamps and systems such as T5. Moreover, reverting back from compact fluorescent lamps to less efficient incandescent lamps, (which do not fall under the WEEE-scope), is also a false economy because even including the endof-life costs, the total lighting costs are still much lower due to the energy saving and longer life.

Berno Ram is European environmental marketing manager with Philips Lighting

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