When a new job lands on your desk and you need to specify a complete lighting installation for a commercial building, the last thing on your mind will be what to do with the products at the end of their natural life. But that is exactly what you should be doing, because by building this thought process into the specification you can save yourself a lot of time.
The introduction of the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive, made it mandatory for end-of-life electrical products to be diverted from landfill and recycled in an appropriate manner. In the case of lighting products this meant that the various components which make up each luminaire had to be dealt with separately which has introduced a number of waste management implications on site.
This may sound like a minefield which you don’t particularly want to step into, but I’m afraid that you don’t have a choice as this legislation is here to stay.
The good news is that since the introduction of the WEEE Directive, the organisations involved have learnt some valuable lessons which have helped to fine tune the process, making compliance very easy.
Compliance schemes were set up to meet the responsibilities of the producers of electrical goods and these schemes now represent many manufacturers in the lighting industry. However over the past few years, we have received a lot of feedback and as a result, the way in which we operate has been fine tuned to meet the demands of the industry.
One of the main lessons which we have learnt is that of flexibility, and it has been this which has helped the evolution of compliance schemes to ensure they not only deal with the waste at the end of its natural life, but that the process is also straightforward and easy.
However, regardless of how easy and straightforward we make the compliance schemes, the biggest problems arise on large projects where the luminaires which are being removed belong to different manufacturers who in turn are members of different compliance schemes.
Even for a large and complex installation, if all of the manufacturers are members of the same compliance scheme getting rid of the waste is a straightforward process because there is still a single point of contact. However, if the manufacturers are members of different schemes, then each scheme may have to be dealt with separately, increasing the volume of paperwork, telephone calls, skips etc.
As a result, many specifiers are now thinking ahead and sourcing their luminaires from manufacturers that belong to the same scheme. In this way they address the needs of the client by making disposal at the end of life a very simple process.
For example, in a project where there are around 1000 luminaires being disposed of, which are produced by manufacturers who are members of the Lumicom Compliance Scheme, the site will be eligible for a skip, which will be placed on site for 14 days free of charge. For fewer luminaires (or if there is insufficient space) site operators are able to download a delivery note from our website and take this, with the luminaires, to the nearest collection point.
In both cases this provides a free and easy way for you to dispose of end-of-life products.
Control your waste
Sustainability continues to be high on the agenda and therefore it is more important than ever to reduce the environmental impact of any construction project. However, there is no reason to believe that just because something has to be sustainable it has to be difficult to manage.
It is true that the WEEE Directive is here to stay and therefore we have to learn to work with it – but with a bit of careful planning, compliance is not as cumbersome as it may initially sound.
So next time you are working on a specification, spare a thought for the people that will have to deal with the products at the end of their life – because that may well be you. By specifying products from manufacturers who are all part of the same compliance scheme, you can save yourself a lot of time and ensure that when they are removed, the luminaires are recycled in the appropriate manner.