Circular design helps LED grow lights deliver on green potential

Across the LED lighting industry, manufacturers and researchers are exploring materials innovations to push LED solutions beyond energy efficiency to prioritize the circular economy in product design. One innovation is the 3D printing of luminaires from recyclable polycarbonate. They are typically not painted and have fewer parts and screws. The carbon footprint of a 3D-printed luminaire — including materials, production, and logistics — is between 50% and 75% lower than its conventional equivalent. One manufacturer has launched a LED panel that uses around 94% less plastic, by weight, than its standard counterpart. To extend the panel’s life, the modules containing the light engines and drivers can be replaced without any wiring or tools. Old modules can be returned to the company for recycling into new modules.

In September 2021, lighting manufacturers in Europe gained resources to adopt standards and legislation related to the circular economy based on the Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive EC2002/94. In the U.K., Recolight, a WEEE compliance scheme for the lighting industry, aggregated services to help the lighting industry embrace the circular economy. Among its services are training workshops to help lighting producers design for circularity and to navigate emerging voluntary and mandatory specifications. It is also promoting awareness of the CIBSE TM66 standard, “Creating a circular economy in the lighting industry,” which certifies a manufacturer’s level of compliance.

Typically, LED grow lights are replaced every five years and discarded in landfills. To solve this issue, LST set about developing a modular lighting solution. NurturGrow’s integrated design and separation technologies allow for an exchange of components. With 44 variants — a combination of low-, medium-, and high-powered linear toplights and interlights — the luminaire’s modular design allows growers to install the optimal μmol/J for their plants, space, and energy requirements. NurturGrow’s interchangeable inner body lets growers update, change, or reconfigure their lights as needed without requiring the replacement of the unit infrastructure or body.

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