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Key principles of a circular product design

 

Take, make, waste — this has been the traditional production model for decades. Over time, we've learned that this linear economy has some deep and inherent flaws.

Not only does the linear economy produce untold quantities of unusable and non-recyclable materials, therefore negatively impacting the environment, but it also fails to promote sustainability — a key component of effective business growth. According to science journal Nature, extending the life of existing resources could "cut some nations' emissions by up to 70 percent... and greatly lessen waste."

 

In order to use resources more efficiently and economically, many companies are adopting a circular economy approach, which in the context of the lighting industry takes the form of circular lighting.

 

Simply put: What if your lighting solution wasn't a product, but a service? Historically, when a business purchased lighting equipment, it knew that the life of that hardware — along with the return on the company’s investment — was finite. This is true of products of all kinds; just consider how mobile phone manufacturers have locked consumers into an endless cycle of ever more enhanced-models

 

Like mobile users, your company's needs can change over time, sometimes prompting upgrades before a product's physical life cycle is truly over. Eventually most products are thrown away, thus creating waste and triggering the need for a replacement product and ultimately, an entirely new investment. The increasingly popular Light as a Service (LaaS) business model is already based on the idea that we don't necessarily need to own the fixtures to benefit from them; instead, the contract may include maintenance and technical services to keep them working optimally.

 

But LaaS only addresses part of the challenge. To truly take part in the circular economy, companies need a circular lighting service, which requires circular-economy-ready products.

Building better lighting

With circular lighting, the idea is to build an ecosystem that has minimal impact on the environment, and delivers maximum return for customers.

 

How does it work? Companies needing state-of-the-art LED lighting can purchase a service contract that includes installation, performance and servicing. When the contract expires the equipment can be reused or returned for recycling. While the LaaS delivery model allows you to pay for the lighting rather than the fixture, circular lighting takes this concept to whole new level: You aren't just getting a standard lighting fixture, but longer lasting products that can be repurposed, reused, remanufactured or fully recycled.

 

This model makes the most of valuable resources, reducing the amount of strain on the environment while also satisfying a demand for superior lighting. The take, make, waste economy of old is replaced with a circular alternative based on an innovative and more responsible mindset: Make, use, return.

Future-proofing companies, one contract at a time

 

In a world where future-proofing your company — that is, anticipating and preparing for changes to the technology on which you rely — is paramount, the benefits of a regenerative system and related product design are many.

 

That said, there's a lot to consider when selecting a lighting contract. Common concerns include hidden costs, disposal fees, the complexity involved with upgrading the products and of course, the product itself! It's not always obvious when products used during a service contract are optimized for a circular economy and deliver on their promise.

 

So, how can you know if the products used during the service contract are optimized for a circular economy?

 

At Philips Lighting, we have already provided a clear framework and guidance on what the key building blocks of truly circular products are. Let's take the Philips Pacific LED gen4 as an example. The new Pacific LED, one of our circular-economy-ready luminaires, eliminates the hassle of owning and maintaining a lighting system and is a true component in delivering a circular lighting contract. It does all this through:

 Ease of upgradeability: After installation, the luminaire features high efficiency of up to 140 lm/W and an average life cycle of 100,000 hours, and can deliver energy cost savings of up to 60 percent. In addition, the luminaire can be upgraded to lighting systems such as Philips GreenParking at any time after installation and users can benefit from even more savings both in terms of efficiency and operational expenditure due to the luminaire’s integrated intelligence.

 

• Ease of maintenance: The modular components are effortless to service and maintain. To start with, these products have a 50 percent lower failure rate of less than 0.5 percent at 5,000 hours, and a lifetime that's 30 percent longer than a standard lighting fixture. The luminaire can function in the most demanding of environments, from cold storage facilities to car washes.

 

 Modular design and ease of disassembly: Standardized modular components are also easy to disassemble and reuse as needed. In five steps or less, our fixture can be dismantled without the risk of damage to individual parts.

 

 Easy recycling: Once dismantled, the circular-economy-ready products and components can be fed into separate waste streams. The lack of potted drivers, glued connections and interlocks, which can be difficult to disconnect, allows for easy recycling, which means that materials can be reused almost in full.

 

The circular economy doesn't just drive innovation and make better use of resources, but its implications in the lighting industry also enable businesses to make better use of their lighting installation and benefit from continuous upgrades over time. It's also important to note that only by partnering with a company that provides truly circular-economy-ready fixtures, and handles the repurposing at the end of contract, can you take part in a production model that's built to benefit both businesses and our modern world.

 

Visit our website for more information about circular lighting, and take a closer look at how it's reshaping the way we do business. You can also check out our first circular-economy-ready luminaire, the Pacific LED gen4.