This is Part 4 in a 4-part series.
While we all expect LED lights to last longer than the traditional light sources they are replacing, the inevitable replacement day will arrive. When that day comes, you will need to have a plan for disposal. Since LED lights are electronic devices categorized as e-waste, simply throwing them in a landfill will not be allowed in most jurisdictions.
It is ironic to think that a technology widely promoted for its environmental benefits may cause new environmental concerns. The replacement of recyclable fluorescent tubes with non-recyclable LED tubes as a “green solution” is also ironic. Any company with a sustainability program will be well advised to have a plan in place before the inevitable disposal day comes.
Unfortunately, the criteria influencing LED purchasing decisions may be in direct conflict with environmental and sustainability goals. As I have detailed previously, the goal to purchase the least expensive LED lighting causes LED manufacturers to use lower cost materials, which have little to no recycling value. Sheet metal and plastic have replaced aluminum in many LED lights in order to achieve the lowest bid. The cost savings achieved on bid day may end up being eclipsed by disposal fees. A great ROI that does not include disposal fees may end up being a negative ROI.
To achieve alignment of purchasing goals with sustainability goals, select premium LED fixtures that provide guaranteed light levels and are designed to put off the day of inevitability as long as possible.