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Cycling resources embedded in systems containing Light Emitting Diodes

Final Report Summary - CYCLED (Cycling resources embedded in systems containing Light Emitting Diodes)

Executive Summary:
LEDs are highly energy efficient, but require the use of critical metals such as indium, gallium, precious metals and tin. These cycLED Target Metals (TM) are also of importance for other low carbon technologies ensuring the sustainable development of the EU. The cycLED project therefore researched into increased resource efficiency by eco-innovation in a life cycle oriented and multidisciplinary approach: longer life time and reuse of LED products by technical optimization and design for repair and serviceability, improved collection and recycling of LED products, solutions for barriers preventing the success of eco-innovative LED products, new business models for eco-innovative products. The results were verified in four demonstrator products covering the sectors industrial, street lighting and decorative lighting, and lighting in harsh environments.
Technological research helped to bridge the gap between the long technical life time potential of LEDs and the actual life time of LEDs in LED products in the four demonstrators. To help the resource-efficient design of LED products, a toolbox was developed providing supporting tools for the various design stages ranging from technical design tools to environmental assessment tools. Business models for the valorization of the resource- and energy-efficient demonstrators were developed to enable the market success of the demonstrator products.
An analysis based on current mass flows of TM and prospected developments showed that indium and gallium are, and in future will only be, used in the lower kilogram range in LED products. Analyses of LED products found extremely low concentrations of indium and gallium in LED products in the range of 10-5 % and less, depending on the product types. This finding confirms the irrelevance of these two metals in LED products, and shows that recycling of indium and gallium is not viable from LED products. The recycling research focused on rare earth elements (REE) in the converters of white LED, precious metals and tin. Different from the other TMs, no established routes are available for recycling the rare earth metals yttrium, lutetium, europium and cerium from LED converters of white LEDs. During pre-processing, the converters could be separated from the LED chips that are manually dismantled from LED products by applying a solvent-based process. Research on the subsequent end-processing steps resulted in the generation of a REE-rich fraction that can be treated in a specialized REE-recycling process. In this way, the developed end-processing route provides the missing link between pre-processing of LEDs and final REE-recycling in a European REE-refining operation. In order to assess the economic conditions of such REE recycling, a cost-benefit analyses was applied to estimate the profitability of the REE recycling path of several LED products with the mechanical treatment, which is the standard processing for waste electronic products in the EU as long as legal stipulations do not require the manual removal of certain components. The cost benefit analysis of two different retrofit LED tubes, four different retrofit lamps, two different TV sets, and of the four demonstrator products and their benchmark products show that the REE recycling path requires extensive manual pre-processing and hence economically is only more profitable than the standard mechanical treatment for those LED products where the manual dismantling yields higher profits. This applies mainly to larger products with heavy bulk material parts, e.g. the demonstrators. The additional expenses for the REE recycling only pay off for very expensive REE, i.e. for LED products containing LuAG-based converters with high contents of lutetium with a price of more than 1,000,000 Euro per tonne. Unless legally required, and provided a process for end-processing of REE from the separated converters becomes available, REE recycling for economic reasons will only be applied to a small portion of the LED products on the market.
Indicators developed to measure eco-innovation of the products helped to prioritize design for recycling (DFR) measures. Ecologically, it proved to be important that the aluminium heat sink can be separated from the LED modules to facilitate the recycling of both aluminium and precious metals and other TM from LED products in the well-established recycling routes. The findings were applied in the demonstrator products.
An Eco-innovation framework was developed providing systematic approaches to identify and solve the challenges towards implementing eco-innovation, among others the findings of the project for more eco-innovative lighting products and other LED products. It shall support in particular small and medium sized enterprises to become more eco-innovative. Analyses of the obstacles to ecodesign and of regulatory barriers to eco-innovation in the LED sector were carried out, in order to support European LED SMEs and policy makers to strengthen eco-innovation of the European LED sector.

Project Context and Objectives:
The EU targets a low carbon economy cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95 % until 2050. Highly energy-efficient technologies like LEDs are such a key to achieve this objective. They offer highly energy-efficient solutions for all applications that depend on light, ranging from domestic and street lighting to backlighting of flat panel displays. At the same time, the LED technology depends on the use of scarce metals. The ever increasing application of LEDs offers great opportunities for economic benefits and economic growth, but there are fears that at the same time they consume these scarce metals. The low collection and recycling rates combined with the strong growth of applications might result in supply shortages of scarce and critical metals like certain rare earth elements, indium, gallium and precious metals that are still indispensable in LED technology in the near future already, the more as the EU must import most of these metals. Adding to this, other technologies of relevance for the future sustainable development of the EU such as photovoltaic modules depend on these metals as well. cycLED therefore aspires to decrease the consumption of these metals through optimizing product design and business practices and through improving the resource efficiency by increased recycling rates and better use of these metals. The growing resource efficiency shall enable the EU to pursue its low carbon target and to exploit the economic opportunities related to the LED technology.
cycLED contributes to decoupling the growth of the LED-related markets from resource depletion. The resource efficiency therefore must grow faster than the consumption of TM in LED products. cycLED targets optimising resource flows in order to maximize the resource efficiency of LED products and thus strengthen the emerging LED market in the EU. cycLED will offer technical optimizations that help to minimise the environmental impacts of human activities, which is in accordance with the FP7 Environmental Theme, as well as identify and lift behavioural and regulatory and non-regulatory barriers to the use of such eco-innovative LED products. cycLED will develop tools and methods to find solutions and to implement them in order to maximize recycling and increase the resource productivity in the production of LEDs.
The cycLED consortium started its activities assessing the material flow along the life cycle of LEDs and LED products. cycLED first identified critical metals according to EU and other definitions, and then researched which of these critical metals and other metals were of relevance in terms of masses applied and consumed resulting in the cycLED target metals (TM). The individual flows of the TM in the life cycle were assessed, as well as the technical, organizational and institutional root causes for inefficiencies resulting in the loss of TM. The further research focused on direct and indirect measures to increase the resource efficiency of these TM in LED products.
Reducing wastes and recycling TM from wastes are approaches to increase the resource efficiency in production and to avoid future supply shortages. The cycLED partners developed a toolbox and methods with technical tools and environmental assessment tools supporting each stage of the design process of LED products in order to achieve environment-friendly solutions.
While LEDs have a long potential technical life time of more than 50,000 hours, their actual technical lifetime is often much shorter once they are assembled into LED products such as luminaires or in LED-backlighted TVs. Failures of the drivers, insufficient packaging and constructions of the LEDs and the LED products and ineffective thermal management are major reasons for this gap. Besides complete failure, these deficiencies result in strongly decreasing energy efficiency of the LEDs in the LED products potentially after short operating times, which may force the user to dispose of the LED product. cycLED seeks to eliminate these deficiencies and approximate the technical life time of LED products to the technical life time of the LEDs. Higher reliability and longer usability of LED products prevent waste and reduce the consumption of TM. The consortium researched and proposed technical optimizations, which were verified in four demonstrators covering different sectors of lighting. These demonstrators also verified the findings of other work packages resulting in LED products that are resource-efficient in production, have a long technical life time, are optimized for recycling and serviceability, including proposals for the organization of their end-of-life and the required institutional backing to promote the use of such eco-innovative LED products. Consumers’ use patterns of LED products may cause the use time to be considerably shorter than the technical life time. cycLED worked out solutions for longer use and reuse of LED products, where viable aligning technical design with business models.
As a base for recycling of TM from LED products, they must be collected at end-of-life (EoL). Pre-processing and technologies for recycling of TM must be identified and developed so that target metal recycling becomes technically and economically viable. cycLED worked out approaches for collection of LED products supporting their subsequent pre-treatment, which has to produce fractions from which the TM can be recycled. Therefore, a sufficiently high concentration of the TM in these fractions has to be obtained during pre-processing. Subsequent end-processing routes are well established, effective and efficient for some TM, such as precious metals. For other TM, in particular the REE, these end-processing routes did not exist. After concentration of the REEs during pre-processing, by separating the REE-rich converters from the rest of the LED modules, a hydro-metallurgical end-processing route has been developed that produces an REE-concentrate that can be treated in a European REE-refining operation. The technical possibility to treat the produced concentrate in this process, provided some adaptations, has been confirmed by an eminent international chemical group. A cost-benefit analysis gives guidance for the organization and technical implementation of the EoL phase enabling economically viable TM recycling from LED products.
Successful implementation of the proposed measures (eco-innovation) requires business models enabling commercial actors in the life cycle of LED products to run economically successful businesses with such eco-innovative products. Such business models were developed. To enable such businesses, and to promote the production, use, and recycling of eco-innovative LED products, regulatory and non-regulatory barriers were identified and presented, and solutions to overcome these barriers were proposed and disseminated to policy makers via a policy brief.
Eco-innovative products like LED products need a comprehensive, integrated approach taking into account all the previous aspects like resource-efficient production, technological optimization of the LED products, eco-design of the products, end-of-life organization, legal compliance and economic viability. cycLED therefore developed an eco-innovation framework for producers of LED products offering a lifecycle based workflow, methods and tools to identify, assess, align and overall optimize all the life cycle relevant and supporting aspects worked out in the project.
Finally, the effects of eco-innovation of LED products must be measureable. Assessment of the status quo and the progress towards resource-efficiency of LED products is hence essential. cycLED developed a set of lifecycle based, but simple indicators assessing and monitoring the key aspects in the life cycle whose status and changes indicate status and progress of eco-innovation of LED products.

Project Results:
1.4.1 WP2 Mass Flow Analysis
In order to understand and quantify the material flows along the lifecycle of LED products in Europe, a material flow analysis (MFA) of precious metals, tin, indium, gallium and the rare earth elements yttrium, lutetium, cerium and europium was conducted along the lifecycle of products containing white LEDs (LED luminaires and liquid crystal display products with LED backlighting). By assuming use times of LED products, end of life flows were modelled based on a scenario for the shipments of LED products until 2020. Also material flows for front end manufacturing of InGaN dies on wafer in Europe were modelled (wafer are exported to Asia for dicing and packaging). The aim of the MFA was to
• identify the current and future magnitude of materials required, recycled and lost at European level with current and state of the art recycling and production technologies,
• identify “hotspots” in the lifecycle to guide the research on measures how towards optimisations that could increase the efficiency of material use and the total amounts of materials required along the life-cycle of LED products.
One has to keep in mind that this is the status-quo scenario with high underlying uncertainties regarding the future development of recycling and production processes as well as LED technologies.
Magnitude of materials required, recycled and lost at European level
It becomes clear that the stock is growing and therefore the efficiency of collection and recycling for both manufacturing scrap and end-of-life scrap play a crucial role for closing the material cycles, especially for materials that are important in terms of weight and value (Au, Ag, Sn, Y and Lu). It’s until 2020 not worthwhile to address Ga, In, Ce and Eu in the end-of-life recycling chain because material concentrations in the products and therefore the end-of-life flows are very low.
Recycling rates for the different materials out of production scrap and end-of-life products as well as the material utilization during manufacturing were estimated. The highest material utilization is achieved for gold, whereas still about one third of the Au production waste from LED die manufacturing is lost – mainly due to discarded wafers. Just around half of the In and Ga required for the LED die production end up in the final dies. It’s apparent that neither the die materials In and Ga nor the rare earth metals from the converters are recycled at end of life. Recycling of gold from production waste is more efficient than from end of life products, because it goes directly to the end-of-life treatment and therefore no material is lost through collection or pre-treatment.
Looking at the share of materials consumed along the different life-cycle stages one can see that over one half of the REMs, Sn, Ag and Au is lost during collection, and about 1/4th-1/3rd during pre-treatment. In this MFA about one half of the Ga and about one third of the In is “lost” in manufacturing waste. In reality In and Ga coming from highly concentrated production scrap such as broken GaAs wafer or indium targets will probably be recycled. However, the authors could not retrieve the information whether and how much of the production waste coming from LED manufacturing in Europe is shipped to a recycler.
The main findings of the MFA are:
• Efficiency of collection and recycling for both manufacturing scrap and end-of-life scrap play a crucial role for closing the material cycles, especially for materials that are important in terms of weight and value (Au, Ag, Sn and Lu).
• End-treatment of LED products in state-of-the-art smelting refining facilities, currently the most common outlet for e-scrap, enables the efficient recycling of precious metals.
• There is still improvement potential for Sn and In recycling.
• Ga and REE recycling require a dedicated end-processing starting from a more concentrated feed.
• For Ga and In, the low material utilization during manufacturing plays also a role. However as LED die production mainly takes place outside of the EU, the material flows are low.
1.4.2 WP3 Resource Efficiency in Manufacturing of LED Products
There have been three major outcomes from this WP, including a toolbox, proposals and lifecycle scenarios for increasing resource efficiency and reducing the environmental impacts from the production of LED lighting products.
Toolbox for resource efficiency reduction of environmental impacts from production of LED lighting products
To clarify, the term ‘tools’ in this document refers to regulations, standards, computer application software packages and hardware instruments used to improve LED product design and manufacturing process with respect to cost and eco-innovation.
The toolbox specified will manage resources for the manufacturing of LED products. Lack of proper management of resources leads to inappropriate spending on materials and product, and the time consuming processes in manufacturing also leads to the negative impact on the environment and resource efficiency. The toolbox will offer easy access to information on timing, product/component purchasing, cost benefit assessment, LED product specifications, utilization and value for design engineers and production managers/engineers to plan on strategies to implement standards that would result in resources efficiency in the manufacturing of LED lighting product. The toolbox brings together a collection of hardware instruments, software and utilities to provide cost cutting methods, reducing environmental impact, increasing resource efficiency, and providing good manufacturing practices.
Proposals for increasing resource efficiency and reducing the environmental impacts from the production of LED lighting products
The proposals developed in this WP include two parts: the approaches proposed by industrial partners and an integrated approach
Industrial approaches
The approaches were proposed by five industrial members of the cycLED project, including (1) Braun: An approach to extend life time, reduce energy and material consumption, and design for recycling and re-use, (2) Riva: Luminaire design and a contracting business model for increasing resource efficiency and reducing environmental impact, (3) ETAP: To increase resource efficiency and reduce environmental impact of LED lighting products within the company’s sustainability framework, (4) Philips: Utilization of spider map and scorecard tool into the development of eco-innovative products, and (5) Ona: Development of the product by application of eco-production methods and tools
An integrated approach
This approach is developed to integrate the eco-methods and tools developed by this WP into the development process of LED lighting products. The approach is illustrated in Figure 1.3.2-2. The product development process considered includes the elaboration of product design specification (PDS), conceptual design, detail design and manufacture. In the PDS elaboration phase, the eco-constrains are derived from various sources such as relevant directives, regulations, eco-design guidelines, standards, etc. These eco-constrains are integrated into the PDS.
In the conceptual design phase, to meet the PDS formulated in the previous phase, several design concepts are generated, and then evaluated against the PDS evaluation criteria. Relevant standard are used to set-up the evaluation criteria. Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) will be conducted during the concept design stage, and, in so doing, relevant LCIA methods such as: Recipe, EI 99, material footprints, carbon footprints, etc. will be utilized. Because in the conceptual design phase, the product information is not very detailed, unlike the detail design phase, a quick estimation is preferred, LCA software for simple and fast analysis, such as Sustainable Minds is more suitable.
In the detail design phase, the product is further developed from the concept obtained in the conceptual design phase. The major tasks to be conducted include selection of components (LED chips, heat sink, LED driver, etc.), material selection, and the product system configuration. Several software tools will be utilized to help to select the components and conduct the detail design task. Relevant standards are also referred during this stage of the process to ensure the product quality and to meet the eco-specifications.
In the prototyping and testing phase, the prototype of the product will be produced and tested, and relevant eco-manufacture/eco-packaging methods will be utilized in order to ensure the product to meet the required eco-constrains and the product quality according to the referred standards. Proper testing equipment will be utilized to test the product quality. The LCA methods, eco-design methods and product failure analysis methods are all utilized in this phase. Unlike the simple/quick LCA conducted in conceptual design phase, a more comprehensive LCA is conducted at this stage. A suitable LCA software such as Simapro is utilized to conduct more detailed analysis. This is because, in this phase of the product development, the product prototype is completed and hence more detailed information about the product is available.
In the manufacturing phase, relevant eco-manufacturing and eco-packaging methods are applied to reduce waste, material, energy consumption, and impact on the environment. Relevant standards are also followed at this stage to ensure product quality.
Lifecycle scenarios of LED lighting products
Based on the expertise of this project consortium, and the electronic product recycling centre ELPRO in particular, the lifecycle scenarios of LED lighting products are developed with a focus on the recycling phase Three recycling scenarios could be utilised for the cycLED demonstrators:
• The Riva and Braun demonstrators contain valuable components and larger amounts of bulk materials such as the heat sinks. These products benefit from manual dismantling. The larger aluminium heat sinks are more valuable when sold as bulk materials than mixed in a fraction with other materials.
• Due to the construction (used glues, sealings), one can assume that the ETAP demonstrator will go for mechanical treatment as manual dismantling may require too much time.
• The ONA product is assumed to go for manual dismantling at ELPRO, because it is easy for disassembly; as it is, however, a small product only, mechanical treatment is a second option.
1.4.3 WP4 Optimized assembly of LED products
To gain profound data for nearly all work packages actual retrofits with LEDs were analysed. After initial discussions only LED retrofits for bulbs with form factor A60 were chosen for investigations. The main target of these investigations was the determination of the deviation of the real LED lifetime from the ideal LED lifetime build in a common system. The analysis of the content of the LED retrofits lead us to the data which LED type was used, also.
We compared the lifetime of the individual Retrofit with the same LED measured at the lifetime measuring facility of the OUT under idealized ambient conditions. To show all aspects of cycLED demonstrators were planed and developed. For the design of the demonstrators this means that a sufficient thermal management is enough to use the complete given lifetime of the build in LED. It is not necessary to overact the thermal management. To check this a control of the junction temperature or a Tc-Point nearby the LED is part of the design rules.
The converter and LED fractions were transferred to IZM for analysing the content of target materials and the type and size of LED with X-ray microscopy. Together with the results of X-ray analysis (XRD) we get content of target materials (In, Ga, rare earth metals REM) in normal LED systems. These systems will give the main content of the waste in the next years.
Optical and electrical characterisation shows that in most cases, the producers publish accurate values within ± 20 %, which is common for the lighting industry. The measured colour temperature (CCT) is also accurate. Usually it is in a sector within ± 100 K and one cannot see different white tonality. The LED retrofit systems together with reference products and standard products from the partners were also used to perform ESD tests. The setup is conform to EN 61000-4-2:03 (IEC 1000-4-2:1995). All (except one) systems showed no decrease in functionality. Therefore the ESD tests were of no importance for the design rules.
As other work packages clearly showed is, that the efficient use of resources (target materials like Ga, In and REM) is to expand the LED life time within the LED system. To expand the lifetime of the LED themselves is not part of the business for a SME. With the demonstrators we shows that it is even for a SME possible to develop marketable products in respect to all targets of cycLED project. The four demonstrators covers nearly all relevant market areas:
- Demo 1 for street lighting especially expands the lifetime and in parallel reduce the energy consumption. The main features implemented in this demonstrators are an Active temperature control with current regulation, smart light control – adopt light-output to the needs, the reduction of standby power consumption and an optimized electronic schematic and parts.
- Demo 2 for harsh environment lighting, because of early failures of LED luminaires in hazardous environments like parking houses we expand the concept definition and realization of our demonstrator 2. It was shown that it is possible to develop a LED luminaire for harsh environments according to a design for recycling and expanding the lifetime of LED.
- Demo 3 for decorative lighting. The approach contains three points: First, increasing the product life, second to design an optimal "green" product and third to extend the services for this product. The life time of the product depends of cause from thermal management, but for this addressed application it was more important to increase the efficacy and the efficiency of the driver. The last one also increases the life time of the whole demonstrator because driver with higher efficiency has a higher quality and a much higher MTBF. The design for a "green" product is in many points the same as for a good design for recycling, but some aspects are in addition. Demonstrator 3 is the demonstrator which is closer to end-user than the others. Part of the services is that the user of this luminaire give this product at end-of-life back. For an optimal use of resources the design is prepared for refurbishing or partial recycling. The disassembling is quite easy and follows only 6 steps and takes less than 30 seconds.
- Demo 4 for industrial lighting shows beside all the important design rules of cycLED that even when the life time of LED is above 75.000 h this is not the life time of the heat sink. These central part of each luminaire can or should have a second and third life for resource and economic reasons. The increased life time of the LEDs in the demonstrator 4 delivers in first life over 1100 Mega-lumen-hours. And with second use of the heat sink (refurbishing) the absolute use of aluminium is smaller than for standard luminaires like benchmark product. In addition the concept of reusing the heat sink 2 - 3 times and only to change the LED modules and the drivers if necessary brings the resource efficiency of aluminium in the region of normal B2C products as analysed before.
1.4.4 WP5 Longer use, reuse and recycling of LED products
Longer use and reuse of LED products
To check the viability of reuse, displays were disassembled from notebooks, the labour time required was assessed, the cost calculated and the revenues investigated on the market. Due to the high variety of different techniques and designs of the devices, it is difficult to find business partners for used displays. To establish a profitable sales channel for those components, two conditions are indispensable:
1. Predictable amount of homogenous displays in a specific time span
2. The extracted devices/displays have to be in a largely good condition to ensure product function and quality
It can be stated that these requirements are hard to meet under the operating conditions of usual pre-treatment facilities. In addition to those requirements, the non-destructive extraction of displays from FPDs incurring relatively high costs and the achievable prices for untested used displays are very low.
For all these barriers, dealing with (LED-) displays as spare parts is economically not interesting for pre-treatment facilities unless higher prices can be achieved. Provided the above requirements can be met, ELPRO would require a price of min. 8.5 €/piece for untested displays to make the display reuse business economically viable, which is not achievable. The determining factor of the costs incurred by the refurbishment, are the high labour costs in most of the EU countries like for example in Germany where ELPRO operates. To make the display reuse economically viable, hourly labour rates of less than 14 €/h would be required, which may be possible without exploitation of workers in few EU member states, and outside the EU in developing countries.
Analytical exploration of LED packages
Analytical activities included two main objectives:
• Give an overview of TM concentrations in LED products
• Research into structures, locations and concentrations of TM in LED products.
Overview of TM concentrations in LED products
To obtain an overview of the composition range of the target metals in end-of-life LED products, different products including an LED panel, LED retrofits, and LEDs as such, have been sampled and assayed.
• In all assayed samples Ag, Au and Cu were consistently present in detectable concentrations, although the concentration levels are depend on the LED-technologies applied and on the product type.
• In all assayed samples, the concentration of In, Ga, Eu and Tb was below the detection limit (ranging from 0.1 wt % to 200 ppm). In the separated LED lamps and the retrofit converters, Y has been detected, albeit at a low concentration (400-1000 ppm).
• Sn was measured in all samples but one, namely the LED lamps. This indicates that the Sn content can be allocated to the soldering and is thus mainly to be found on the PWBs.
The full results of the elemental analysis are summarized in Table 1. The main metallic constituents are Al, Cu, Ag, Au and Pd. The balance is plastic.
Research into structures, locations and concentrations of TM in LED products.
Cross-section polishes of the demonstrator’s and benchmarks LED packages were prepared and analysed to obtain geometrical data about converter filling degrees, volumes of converters and phosphors, and insights into the design of the packages. Analyses of the converters, the LED packages, and the drivers for TM enabled setting up bills of materials (BOM) of the demonstrators and benchmarks, and to correlate the contents with types of packages. These data informed the works in WP 4, 5 and 9.
Optimized collection of LED products
The collection of LED products has two main objectives:
• Increase the quantity of collected LED products (luminaires, lamps, LED-backlight products like TVs, monitors, notebook displays), because LED products that are not collected are unlikely to be treated adequately.
• Increase the quality of LED product collection so that it facilitates the subsequent treatment. Two aspects are of principal relevance:
✓ Collect LED products together with other products or as groups of LED products, which require similar pre- and final processing to reduce sorting and pre-processing efforts
✓ Collect and transport LED products in a way that does not adversely impact the later pre- and end-processing, e.g. by avoiding damages.
It was researched and assessed how both the quality and the quantity of collection can be increased. The recycling of TM from LED products is only viable if the LED products are treated separately removing the LED parts from these products. A separate collection of LED products, or at least sorting out the LED products from other WEEE would therefore support the pre-treatment.
There is no legal requirement for the separate collection and/or treatment of LED products. In case recycling of the TM, in particular of REE, is required, e.g. to mitigate Europe’s dependence on REE imports from China, legal regulations for separate collection and treatment of LED products and for the recycling of the TM might be justified.
The current situation in EU member states does not encourage the separate collection of LED products. They are collected with other categories and types of WEEE, and they are not necessarily sorted out from these waste streams. The labelling of LED products may contribute to the quality of collection provided this reduces the EoL cost for these products. This would probably be the case where the labelling prevents their treatment together with products backlighted with mercury-containing cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL), which must be assumed to be more expensive as emissions of the volatile mercury into the environment must be avoided.
The quantity of WEEE collection in most EU member states must be increased considerably to meet the higher WEEE collection targets in the recast WEEE Directive from 2016 and from 2019 on. The stipulations in the WEEE Directive that retailers have to provide for takeback possibilities for very small WEEE is intended to increase the collection of these devices. LED-lamps would in particular benefit from this. The introduction of the new WEEE categories with the new category “Screens, monitors, and equipment containing screens having a surface greater than 100 cm2” in the recast WEEE Directive would at least reduce the efforts to sort out these types of WEEE from the collected waste streams. These devices in many EU member states are collected together with other WEEE from information and communication technology and consumer electronics. Labelling of LED-devices would further allow a quick identification and sorting out and separate treatment of the LED-backlighted devices from those with CCFL backlights.
For lamps, the situation will remain that LED-lamps are collected together with compact and other fluorescent lamps. Labelling of LED-lamps would help to quickly identify and sort out the LED lamps for separate treatment. Avoiding the very high treatment-cost for (C)CFL due to their mercury content could be a driver for manufacturers to label the products. The treatment of (C)CFL currently causes costs between 1,000 and 1,300 €/t in Germany, while LED lamps could be treated for less than 200 €/t .
Finally, financing models for collectors may improve the quantities as well as the qualities of WEEE collection in general, and of LED product collection in particular, if they incentivize collectors to collect more and better. Such models would, however, have to be backed by proper financing models. The financing could come from the producers, the customers and the retailers, or possibly from taxes. The introduction of such financing models would require socioeconomic assessments to fully understand the impacts and the effectiveness and efficiency of such models.
Pre-processing of LED products
The pre-processing of LED products targets concentrating the rare earth elements (REE) yttrium, lutetium, cerium and europium without diluting the precious metals and other target metals (TM) for which end-processing routes are well established. The REE in LED products are concentrated in the converters of white LED. The CreaSolv process, originally developed to dissolve and recycle plastics, was successfully applied to 160 kg of LED stripes to remove around one kilogram of converters from these LED stripes for end-processing research. The CreaSolv process does not dissolve the metal parts and thus does not cause losses of precious and other metals. The bare LED stripes without the converters can be processed in the established end-processing routes for recycling precious metals, tin, copper and other critical or valuable metals with high recycling rates.
Within the project, no reliable mechanical process could be found to remove the LED stripes and chips from LED products prior to the CreaSolv process. This has to be done manually, which affects the cost of the pre-treatment.
End-processing of LED products
To enable the recycling of target metals from LED products, a separation between components containing the REEs (i.e. converters) and components containing precious metals and Sn (i.e. the LED driver) is desired. In this way, the LED driver could be treated in smelting refining facilities, which is currently the most common outlet for e-scrap, thereby enabling the efficient recycling of precious metals and simultaneous recovery of Sn. However, the flow sheets of these integrated smelters are not adapted for the recovery of rare earth elements. These easily oxidisable elements revert to the slag phase in diluted concentration. Therefore, pre-processing of LED products to separate the converter material to obtain a more concentrated rare earth containing fraction is considered as the way forward. Such a successful pre-processing route is described under “Pre-processing of LED products”.
Chemical analysis results show that REE concentration in the pre-processed converter fraction is sufficiently high to overcome the technical barrier for recycling, namely in the percentage range. Recycling of the REEs from this fraction is tested at lab scale, following three different end-processing routes identified based on literature research. Figure 1 schematically depicts these routes.
The first route starts with a strong acid leaching at high temperature. All the rare-earth metals present as oxides and possibly phosphates should be leached. The other two routes each start with an alkaline leaching at high temperature followed by a hot strong acid leaching. The alkaline leaching is performed at atmospheric pressure or at high pressure. The latter should enable the decomposition of RE aluminates and produce RE oxides that can be acid leached. Finally, the acid leaching step can be followed by oxalate precipitation if REEs are detected in the filtrate. To evaluate the effect of heat treatment on the decomposition of the silicone matrix and its influence on the subsequent leaching steps, both routes (alkaline leaching) are tested with and without a preceding calcination step.
The main conclusions of these proposed end-processing routes can be summarized as follows:
• Hot strong acid leaching: no leaching of the present Lu was observed, indicating that the REEs are not present as oxide. This was confirmed by XRD measurements showing the presence of Lu-aluminate, which impedes leaching of Lu.
• Hot (100 °C) strong alkaline leaching: 40 to 50 wt % of the silicates and around 10 wt % of the aluminates are dissolved. The solid residue is 60 wt % of the input. Consequently, the concentration of Lu in the solid residue is increased after this alkaline leaching step. During the subsequent acid leaching step, 10 wt % alumina and over 50 wt % strontium are dissolved, but no REEs are found in the solution. This is not in accordance with experimental results reported in literature and might be related to the presence of the silicone matrix in this specific input fraction, hindering the liberation of REEs.
• Very hot (150 °C) strong alkaline leaching: around 70 wt % of the silicates and 15 wt % of the aluminates are leached, thereby reducing the weight of the solid residue with approx. 35-40 %. The solid residue consisted of two distinct layers. Part of the residue, accounting for 24 wt % of the total residue, contains 37.5 wt % Lu2O3. Another part of the residue (76 wt % of the total residue) contains mostly silicates and less than 3 wt % Lu2O3. Despite this separation, REEs did not dissolve during the subsequent acid leaching step (similar results as above). Nevertheless, the ability to produce a fraction concentrated in Lu and with low amount of residual organic enables the recycling of REEs in specific REE-recycling facilities available in Europe.
• After applying an initial calcination step on the CreaSolv product to remove the silicone matrix, the Lu concentration is slightly increased. However, this treatment did not have a beneficial effect on the efficiency of the subsequent leaching steps. On the contrary, the calcination step caused a problematic filtration after the alkaline leaching step. This could be due to the decomposition of the silicone matrix into silica.
• Given the impossibility to leach lutetium in an acid solution, oxalate precipitations could not be performed.
In conclusion, these experimental tests resulted in the development of a hydro-metallurgical processing route that provides the missing link between pre-processing of LEDs and final REE-recycling by producing an REE-concentrate that can be treated in a European REE-refining operation.
The produced concentrate weighs less than 15 % of the input fraction (LED converters) and contains 37.5 wt % Lu-oxide, 3700 ppm Ce-oxide and 520 ppm Eu-oxide. Based on the XRD measurement of this solid fraction, Lu is predominantly present as aluminate compound. The remainder of the solid residue contains 8.3 wt % SiO2 (which is less than 3 wt % of its input value), 22.9 wt % Al2O3, 8.5 wt% TiO2 and some calcium phosphate. Based on the chemical and physical analysis of this product, the technical feasibility to recover REEs from this fraction by using a specific recycling process available within Europe, provided some adaptions, has been confirmed.
Cost-benefit analysis
The cost-benefit analyses of various EoL scenarios was conducted for several products.
• The 2 different types of retrofit LED tubes that were treated in the CreaSolv process
• four other LED retrofit lamps
• two different size LED TV sets.
• the four demonstrator products
• their benchmark products
The following EoL treatment scenarios were compared:
(Separate) collection followed by
1. manual dismantling and sales of fractions
a. without subsequent CreaSolv and converter processing
b. with subsequent CreaSolv and converter processing
2. fully mechanical treatment, which is the standard treatment for such kind of products provided the LED lamps are not collected and treated with other lamps and need to undergo specific treatment to avoid mercury emissions from (C)CFL and CCFL-backlighted TVs and monitors.
The products were dismantled manually assessing the required time and the resulting dismantling fractions as well as the achievable prices for these fractions. The results of the mechanical treatment were calculated based on ELPRO’s experience estimating a 20 to 25 % material loss in the mechanical separation and prices for fractions from mechanical treatment.
The CreaSolv process followed by converter end-processing is only profitable for those products that contain LuAG converters, due to the very high price of lutetium oxide compared to the other REE-oxides. The converter processing route therefore can only be profitable for very expensive REE like lutetium. Yttrium currently is by far too cheap, and Europium, even though expensive, is used in too small amounts in converters to have a relevant economic impact. Rising prices for REE in the future could thus enable better economic results. All four demonstrators benefit from manual dismantling, and two of the benchmark products. The converter processing route is only profitable for those with LuAg converters.
REE recycling processes will only be used if it is more profitable than the standard mechanical pre-treatment, unless legal obligations require REE recycling. Overall, the converter processing route is only more profitable for those products which already benefit from the manual dismantling process compared to mechanical pre-treatment. The manual dismantling process as a precondition for the CreaSolv process dominates the costs of the converter processing route and is the bottleneck towards its profitability.
Besides the need for a REE recycling process as a technical precondition, a mechanical pre-treatment instead of manual dismantling for concentrating the converters or the phosphors is the economic pre-condition for an economically viable REE recycling from LED products. Alternatively, reducing the labour cost for manual dismantling could be beneficial economically as well as ecologically. Conducting the manual dismantling in countries with lower labour cost could be a way to facilitate REE recycling economically once it becomes technically viable. This would also yield ecological benefits as it avoids the downcycling of the material qualities and the 20 % or more of material losses in mechanical pre-treatment.
Active disassembly technologies have been discussed as well to reduce labour cost for disassembly, but so far have not been applied, mainly due to cost reasons. Active disassembly product design is only an option for products in B2B return schemes with large volumes of identical products. Products with the same active disassembly technology (based on pressure, temperature,...) are to be collected separately or sorted out prior to start the disassembling process.
Recommendations for increased recycling of TM from LED products
Improving target metal recycling from EoL products requires the improvement of each individual step in the EoL chain and the alignment of collection, pre-processing and end-processing. The separated converters will have to be the starting material for end-processing as they are the only components with sufficiently high concentrations as a primary pre-condition for REE recycling. The following treatment is therefore recommended after collection to enable a future REE recycling from LED products:
• Manual dismantling of the LED stripes/modules from products containing white LEDs, including the separation of the aluminium heat sinks from the LED modules
• Separation of the converters from the LED stripes/modules in the CreaSolv process
• Treatment of the LED stripes/modules without converters in the already established end-processing routes for recycling of precious metals, copper, tin and other non-ferrous metals besides aluminium
• End-processing of the converters removed from the LED stripes/modules. This end-processing consists of steps (i) to further concentrate the REE into one fraction and (ii) to recycle the REE from this concentrate in a specific REE-recycling operation.
The following recommendations target optimizing the effectiveness and efficiency of the above process route.
Improve quantity and quality of collection
REE recycling from LED products requires the manual dismantling of these products to remove the LED stripes/modules. The separate collection of LED products is useful and practicable for business-to-business (B2B) products like industrial lighting, street lighting etc. where larger amounts of the same lamp types are collected. Provided these lamps contain LuAG converters, the recycling of REE can be economically profitable the more as such products can benefit from manual dismantling. Clear marking of LED luminaires including the type of phosphors used and sound design for disassembly to reduce disassembly times would be an important pre-requisite to enable REE recycling.
At current REE prices, REE recycling from other LED products is economically only profitable for LuAG converters. In other cases, it will not be practiced unless legally required. Separate collection of retrofit LED lamps from private households is impracticable as consumers cannot differentiate them from CCFL and CFL lamps at collection points. This applies also if the LED products are labelled. The probability that consumers accidentally drop of CCFL and CFL lamps in the containers of LED lamps and products is considered to be too high. A clear marking of LED lamps and products with LED backlighting would nevertheless be useful for all products that may have CCFL and CFL alternatively to LED backlighting, namely lamps, TV sets, monitors and displays. The mercury content increases the processing cost of these products so that the sorting of the LED products would save processing cost. The processing of CCFL and CFL lamps cost between 1,000 €/t to 1,300 €/t, while LED lamps and backlighted products can be processed with IT and consumer equipment for less than 200 €/t.
The quantities of waste electrical and electronic equipment will have to be increased in the coming years due to the higher collection targets in the WEEE Directive. An economic incentive model was discussed to provide collectors with economic incentives, which increase with the amounts of LED lamps or other LED products collected. The effectiveness, required incentives and additional cost of such models could not be tested in the course of the project as it requires a field experiment with involvement of takeback schemes, producers and policy makers at a larger scale.
Quantities and quality of collection can be improved with specific business models (BM, WP7). BM’s based on product stewardship, leasing etc. have more potential to incentivize the product return to the supplier who best know the product design and composition for sound EoL treatment.
It must be noted that better collection also benefits the recycling of other TM, in particular of precious metals, which are ecological and economic carriers of recycling activities.
Pre-processing is the economic bottleneck for REE recycling from LED products. Manual dismantling in combination with the CreaSolv process is to be applied to concentrate REE to a degree that makes end-processing viable in principle. High labour cost strongly affect the profitability of the REE processing route. Two approaches can reduce labour cost:
• Good design for disassembly to minimize labour time, and to enable the separation of aluminium heat sinks from the LED modules;
• Lower hourly labour rates, e.g. by dismantling the products in countries with lower labour cost;
While certain products already benefit from manual dismantling under the current labour cost conditions in Germany/Western Europe, the above approaches could enlarge the types and amounts for which REE recycling is economically viable.
Alternative assembly technologies like active disassembly products have been discussed in the past already, but have never been implemented so far.
To increase the recycling of target metals from LED products, firstly components should be identified that can cause problems and losses in recycling due to specific material combinations. For example, components containing precious metals and REEs should be identified and separated, given the fact that they cannot be recycled with the same carrier metal processing route. Tools such as the “Metal Wheel” or material (in)compatibility matrices can be used for a first screening. Secondly, products should be designed in such a way that these components can be separately removed.
For LED products, this implies that (1) heat sinks consisting of aluminium, (2) printed wiring boards (PWBs) containing precious and special metals, (3) converters containing REEs and (4) plastics should be separated during the pre-processing stage in order to match with the final treatment recycling options. Simulations can be added to this qualitative approach in order to quantify recovery and losses, and grasp the complexity of recycling.
1.4.5 WP6 Implementing Eco-innovation
WP6 involved the development of an eco-innovation approach incorporating the technical solutions to reduce the consumption of targeted critical raw materials (extend life time, increase efficacy, increase recyclability) with the non-technical support mechanisms (supply chain management, and use phase collaboration).
Work package 6 consisted of 5 core tasks which are summarised in the following sections:
• T6.1 Meta-review of standards, methodologies, emerging technology studies
• T6.2 Development of eco-innovation approach for LED products
• T6.3 Integration and alignment of other WP results
• T6.4 Implementation of eco-innovation for LED products
• T6.5 Development of guideline for design for longevity, efficiency, reuse, recycling of economically viability LED products
Task T6.1. Meta-review of standards, methodologies, emerging technology studies
The review of eco-innovation literature, practice & context included the collation of cycLED consortium, sectoral & regional eco-innovation management approaches, decision making mechanisms, standards, methods and support initiatives. The resulting ‘Eco-innovation Approaches Workbook’ recorded the context, and the ‘Eco-innovation Mapping Workbook’ the eco-innovation mechanisms such as ecodesign and design management support, which inform the development of the demonstrator product/service specifications. Together with the literature review, this data provided a picture of EU lighting sector eco-innovation drivers and business approaches.
Task T6.2 Development of eco-innovation approach for LED products
The eco-innovation approaches and mechanisms resulting from the previous task were checked for their compatibility with the demonstrator companies’ approaches practiced so far. Those fitting best were integrated and followed to support the development of key eco-innovation principles and a draft eco-innovation process as a framework for further consortium refinement. Explorative activities with demo companies using awareness raising and motivational tools enabled the development of demonstrator lifecycle scenarios in collaboration with WP7; these scenarios highlighted the significance of technical and non-technical innovation to support resource efficiency and possible avenues to derive business value.
High-level eco-innovation principles (see D6.1) provided a mechanism for establishing fundamental principles for the effective design, servicing and re-application of resources within LED containing lighting products.
The early provision of a draft eco-innovation framework supported the alignment of the Business Model framework (WP7) within the eco-innovation approach in the course of five distinct phases:
(1) Exploration of drivers (2)
(2) Translation of opportunities to strategies
(3) Design of product\service business models
(4) Support delivery of products and services
(5) Embedding eco-innovative capacity.
Companies and adopt and adapt the eco-innovation framework to their own requirements and allow alternate interactions based on need. For example a company may wish to explore drivers to develop resource based thinking, or explore the already identified business opportunities for providing services complementary to their product offer. The finalised eco-innovation framework (see D6.1 p29) supports this dual motivational and capacity building approach.
Task T6.3 Integration and alignment of other WP results
Alignment of the technical solutions provided (WP3, 4 & 5) with the barriers and business model (WP7 & 8) was addressed through collaborative activities and resulted in life cycle specifications for the demonstrators. The lifecycle specifications were operationalized into design parameters that could be applied within WP4. The large number of product & service orientated strategies identified were refined to 38 key strategies (see strategy landscape D6.2) which were assigned to headline strategies (material reduction, technical life, service life, useful life and EoL optimization) and implementation levels (Material & component, Design & manufacture, Product/service model, Application & installation, Owner/User value, Infrastructure & governance). The resultant strategy landscape acts as a link to corresponding design guidelines within D6.2.
Task T6.4 Implementation of Eco- innovation Guideline for design for longevity, efficiency, reuse
Several bespoke implementation support tools were developed:
• Eco-innovation Potential Check: excel based qualitative (questionnaire) tool to assist the exploration of opportunities & barriers across lifecycle strategies (life extension, reuse, resource recovery & sovietisation). Outputs describe indicative Product Potential, Market Potential, Organisational Potential and System Potential based on user response.
• Cost value exercise/tool: spreadsheet based (quantitative) tool to support the development of the financial business case, to develop understanding of the cost incurred by the 'customer/owner' and possible commercial benefits from repositioning these costs within new business models.
• Eco-innovation strategy check: excel based tool is to support the selection of eco-innovation strategies through a high-level scoring against their value, impact and company fit. Users weight company specific criteria against which they score product, service and company performance. He outputs are charted to indicate relative prioritisation. Use requires the prior identification of eco-innovation strategies and understanding of their importance against key criteria.
• Stewardship check tool: The stewardship check is a simple questionnaire based tool that provides an indication of the opportunities for enhanced resource management through product stewardship.
(All of the tools are intended specifically for the LED lighting design & assembly companies)
In addition to the tools exercises to support lifecycle thinking where developed:
Lifecycle mapping exercise: Considering the whole lifecycle avoids shifting problems from one lifecycle stage to another, from one geographic area to another and from one environmental medium or protection target to another (European Commission, Joint Research Centre). Design teams should undertake this exercise early in the eco-innovation process in order to develop fundamental understanding of the company position within the value chain, the identification of stakeholders and which product/service aspects they may be able to control or influence.
Lifecycle specification worksheet: To maximize the potential for greater resource efficiency, the luminaire designer must consider the whole product/service system. The lifecycle specification worksheet is a simple tool that aims to define those product attributes that influence resource efficiency across the entire life of the LED luminaire. These product attributes can then be influenced by specific luminaire eco-innovation features that may act as a ‘performance passport’ travelling with the product, steering its resources at each lifecycle phase.
To support designers in setting up the lifecycle specifications, a simple cross-check tool has been developed (see deliverable D6.2). The tool presents each of the standardised luminaire components against a list of design criteria (29 key considerations) and affords a measure of importance via a traffic light indication.
Reach exercise: The “Reach exercise” is practiced to identify the company-external factors relating to their eco-innovation activity, also to explore the control or influence they may have over them, and to develop measures in the companies to improve control and influence of these factors.
T6.5 Guideline for design for longevity, efficiency, reuse, recycling & economic viability
A set of design guidelines for the development of LED luminaires has been developed : incorporating the technical ecodesign aspects across the lifecycle of the LED product (thermal, optical, mechanical and electrical design) with the non-technical service design aspects (servicing efficiency, stewardship and function). A set of rules simplifies lifecycle considerations and highlights key information that directs the SME lighting designers to more in-depth guidelines and principles for lifecycle resource efficient product/services (D6.2).
The main topics within the guidelines are as follows:
• Durability - Benefits of luminaire durability Component lifecycle considerations
• Electrical design - Electrical Connections, Printed Wiring Board (PWB), Driver specification, LED Module specification, Component ESD protection
• Thermal design - Passive cooling, thermal stability (interfaces, pads, paste), thermal protection, active cooling
• Mechanical design - General robustness, luminaire housing, Internal architecture, External fixings (mounts), External Styling, Mechanical interconnects & fixings
• Optical design - Primary optics, Secondary/tertiary optics, Optical system efficiency
• Design for performance maintenance - User/owner servicing simplification, component active/smart protection
• Design for efficiency and flexibility (upgrade readiness)
• Design for component & luminaire reuse
• Design for resource stewardship & recycling - Material and component identification, material segregation (recycling compatibility)
1.4.6 WP7 Business models for eco-innovation
Key elements of green business models
Green business models cannot be built only on the gross intrinsic material value of the product. These values are too low. Alternative value drivers need to be explored. How to explore those value drivers was examined in WP6.
Business models require to find value close to the customers. From an environmental impact perspective, long lasting products with high energy efficiency are needed. From a value chain perspective, business models can be built on the following key elements to provide customer value:
• product durability,
• product maintenance and service, providing additional value through dematerialized service (controls, monitoring,...)
• product and part re-use and remanufacturing.
Value propositions for each of the key elements can be identified. Similar product qualities can be put into the market applying highly different approaches. As an example, product durability can be valorised in a spectrum starting from a premium price for a durable product over extended warranty up to light as a service (Pay per lux) value proposition.
Valorisation of the eco-innovative products are identified for each demonstrator, as illustrated in the below valorisation methods for the demonstrator business models. One business model can apply different valorisation methods to create a viable model.
• Valorisation of customer benefits like reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) and benefits related to upgradeability, serviceability, modularity and robustness in the product sales price
• Valorisation through product stewardship and by re-selling the (refurbished) products.
• Valorisation by additional product related services like refurbishing product, upgrading modifications (through controls, providing new product modules,...)
• Valorisation through cost reduction by lower material costs (less materials) , lower manufacturing cost (using standard parts vs custom build parts), assembly and installation cost
• Valorisation of the function by selling the functionality of lighting in a pay-per-lux business model
• Valorisation of separated materials (by the product manufacturer) instead of by the pre-processor in case the manufacturer is involved in the end of life phase (product stewardship, servicing products, pay-per-lux model,...).
The above illustrates the importance of good insight in the lifecycle scenario’s. The product manufacturer can explore its ability to intervene in the product lifecycle and identify which stakeholders need to become partners to build up an affective business model. To support this process, two tools are created.
Tools: CycLED BM canvas & cycLED BM framework
The cycled BM canvas allows the companies to visualize the business model in their specific context. By adding additional layer to the business model canvas from Osterwalder A. & Pigneur a canvas is obtained that situates the business model into an eco-innovative aspiration (c.f. Figure 2).
The layers “Company values & Ambition” and “Network Stakeholders” are helpful to keep the focus on the eco-innovative targets while visualising the role the stakeholders might take up in the product lifecycle to make the business model work. Stakeholders that might become a key partner can be easily detected.
The layers “Environmental Cost” and “Environmental Benefits” make sure that the environmental impact are identified. Furthermore the layer Performance management helps to explore on how the overall effectiveness of the model will be measured and controlled.
Eco-innovative business models are not created as a standalone development. The strong interdependency between product development and business model is one example of the systemic nature this process. The business models should describe how to market the eco-innovative products and services within the companies strategies. Additionally the setting and the learning processes are paramount for a successful process.
To deal with this complexity associated to the systemic nature of eco-innovation the cycled BM framework is created. This generic framework is developed and validated to support companies going through an eco-innovation process. The framework allows to start the eco-innovation process from multiple starting points assuring to be applicable for any company specific action plan and maturity level.
The framework basically consists of the five strategic levels as illustrated in the simplified representation shown in Figure 3.
This simplified version allows the explanation of a complex systemic approach with easy to understand building blocks and guiding questions. The full version of the cycled BM framework is illustrated in Figure 4.
The red boxes on top attract the reader to the potential entry points and the red arrows indicate action paths. Further action steps can be acquiring additional or deeper knowledge, identifying and using appropriate tools, consulting inspiring cases, or small-scale experiments.
The questions and tasks are guiding the user from top to bottom while underlying building blocks are highlighted. At the bottom of the each key element, a gateway question is raised to stimulate auto reflection and inspire the users to enlarge his horizon, to use tools, to build up knowledge, to consult inspiring cases, and to look for appropriate partners where needed. Finally the result fields and outcomes are described for each key element.
Business models for the demonstrators
For each demonstrator a business model is created using the cycLED BM canvas. Those business models are starting from their current models and illustrating the next steps to take. The business models illustrate that their current and an eco-innovative business model can co-exist. It allows the demonstrators to build up new experience with new value propositions and value capture methods without compromising their current income model. The demonstrator business models form a stepping stone for further extending their eco-innovation initiatives while safeguarding their business.
The eco-impact reduction of ETAP’s demonstrator product is primarily based the life time extension. In the business model this valued by selling premium products providing the customer value of a lower total cost of ownership. Additionally the product design allows to start with leasing as an alternative for current sales. This allows the company to get familiar with financing, product traceability, serviceability and alternative end of life scenario’s. The product design (Design for Recycling) allows the product to be easily serviced, repaired and dismantled. This creates the opportunity to investigate additional future offerings related to product repair, re-use, recycling. Some of those potential offerings will require current stakeholders to become key partners.
The eco-impact reduction of ONA’s demonstrator products lies primarily in life time extension through a product stewardship approach. The products can get a second life when the first customer disposes the lighting product for none technological reasons (fi. hotel interior refurbishment). This is valued through re-selling to the product to other customers. Selling additional services to the initial customer for refurbishing, upgrading their products is possible. Furthermore the selected armature materials (recycled PET and recycled aluminium) supported by the product design (Design for Disassembly) keeps the environmental impact low (low impact of source materials, easy (dis)assembly processes, low product energy use). The company can further explore the boundaries in which this product stewardship model remains economical viable without compromising their current business and while controlling the cost-benefits of reselling the ‘second hand’ products.
The eco-impact reduction of Braun’s demonstrator product lies in the material effectiveness and life time extension. This is valued through lower material and production cost and by capturing additional value for improved total cost of ownership (improved controls) , serviceability and upgradeability (modular design). This approach creates the opportunity for value capture at end of life. Reusing parts, easy separation of components for optimal recycling of material fractions. The business model allows to redefine the role the company wants to play during the successive product lifecycle phases.
The eco-impact reduction of Riva’s demonstrator lies in the product life time extension. The pay-per-lux business model allows the company to value the product design (designed for durability) by closing deals with monthly fees for providing trouble free and risk free lighting. It allows the company as well to capture value from the product through their current sales channels based on improved total cost of ownership, robustness, repairability and serviceability. Furthermore the pay-per-lux model allows the company to valorise components at end of life. Especially the aluminium housing can be refurbished for re-use which might reduce the manufacturing cost while lowering the environmental impact. Alternatively the housing can be easily separated to valorise as separate material fraction.
1.4.7 WP8 Barriers to eco-innovation
Four main results can be brought forward for WP8:
1. Identification of regulatory barriers to LED eco-innovation
2. Identification of barriers to the ecodesign of LED products and services
3. Formulation of key recommendations to overcome barriers to eco-innovation in the European LED sector,
4. Synthetic presentation of key policy recommendations to overcome barriers to eco-innovation in the European LED sector.
Identification of regulatory barriers to LED eco-innovation
Identifying regulatory barriers to LED eco-innovation enables us to formulate policy recommendations to remove these barriers. The first source of information about these barriers are the four cycLED SMEs in charge of developing a demonstrator. For them, the most important regulatory barriers to eco-innovation are:
- Increasing and unfair competition from non-European firms;
- The existence of litigations between LED firms;
- The lack of funding to support SMEs' eco-innovation;
- The lack of skilled people to repair used LED products;
- The fact that educational institutions do not provide enough people well trained to develop ecoinnovations;
- The lack of modularity between radical innovations;
- The lack of certification mechanisms to check out the technical specifications of products put on the market;
- The fact that national policies do not provide adequate support to ecoinnovation and/or emerging LED technologies.
The second source of information about regulatory barriers to eco-innovation in the LED sector are European LED firms. For them, the most important regulatory barriers to eco-innovation are:
- The fact that consumers lack knowledge about eco-innovative products;
- The lack of EU policies supporting eco-innovation;
- Difficulties to access EU instruments supporting eco-innovations;
- The uncertainty regarding future LED standards;
- The fact that consumers not willing to spend on eco-innovations;
- The strategy of established firms that prevent others from entering eco-innovation markets;
- The lack of standardisation in the LED sector;
- The lack of cooperation between LED firms on eco-innovation.
Finally, we have analysed whether patent systems might be used as regulatory obstacles to eco-innovation in the LED sector. Indeed, some incumbent LED firms could be using their large patent pools to deter eco-innovation in other firms, especially SMEs. This could explain why “The existence of litigations between LED firms” has been highlighted as a major barrier to eco-innovation by cycLED SMEs. We have examined the relationship between LED patent applications and LED patent litigations. Our results do not allow us to conclude that LED patenting by incumbent firms is used to deter the eco-innovation of other firms.
Identification of barriers to the ecodesign of LED products and services
Identifying barriers to LED ecodesign enables us to formulate recommendations to help European LED firms to overcome these barriers. The first source of information about these barriers are the four cycLED SMEs in charge of developing a demonstrator. For them, the most important regulatory barriers to eco-innovation are:
- Lack of in-house sources of finance;
- LED drivers are barriers to ecodesign;
- The gross intrinsic value is too low;
- Eco-innovation costs are too difficult to control;
- Information systems are sources of rigidity that discourage eco-innovation;
- Lack of technical personnel to ecoinnovate.
The second source of information about barriers to LED ecodesign are European LED firms. We have asked them to evaluate the importance of financial and knowledge-related barriers. According to European LED firms, the most important financial barriers to LED ecodesign are:
- Lack of funds within your enterprise or group to develop eco-innovations;
- Eco-innovation costs are too high;
- Lack of public funding sources to support eco-innovation;
- Lack of financial support for SMEs;
- Lack of private funding sources to support eco-innovation.
According to European LED firms, the most important knowledge-related barriers to LED ecodesign are:
- Lack of qualified personnel to eco-innovate;
- Difficulty to find complementary expertise to eco-innovate;
- Lack of information on markets for eco-innovations;
- Lack of information on recent technological developments related to eco-innovation.
Finally, because a low participation of women to eco-innovation can be an obstacle to ecodesign, we have investigated this barrier and formulated recommendations to overcome it, such as gender-blind job recruiting or in-house training courses to increase the number of female engineers and technicians. Besides identifying these barriers for LED firms and suggesting (see below) solutions to overcome them, in order to increase the benefits of those firms of the work conducted in WP8, a self-assessment tool of barriers to eco-innovation has been made available online (see
Formulation of key recommendations to overcome barriers to eco-innovation in the European LED sector
The work carried out to identify eco-innovation barriers has enabled us to formulate recommendations for three actors: cycLED SMEs, European LED firms, and European policy makers.
To help cycLED SMEs overcome their barriers to ecodesign, all cycLED members worked on formulating solutions which are detailed in D8.3. For example, in order to overcome the lack of in-house sources of finance cycLED SMEs can try to reduce their eco-innovation costs, expand their capital, or create joint ventures with other firms. To give a second example, in order to overcome the problem of early-failing LED drivers, besides changing driver supplier or using custom-made drivers, other in-house solutions include training technician about how to select reliable drivers, which implies not only to take into account the cost of the equipment but also to integrate environmental criteria such as the longevity of the driver or its replaceability.
Concerning the barriers to ecodesign identified by European LED firms that are not members of the cycLED project, detailed recommendations are also presented in D8.3. For example, market pull solutions suggest LED firms to change their business model to move to a product service system one, to improve product modularity to extend their lifetime, to allocate staff and time to do market and technology watch, or to improve information flows with internal and external sale forces (e.g. by using an efficient ERP).
Finally, policy recommendations could also be formulated to overcome regulatory barriers to LED eco-innovation. To help cycLED SMEs overcome their barriers to ecodesign, all cycLED members worked on formulating policy solutions, which for example included the launch of an EU programme to guaranty the accuracy of LED products’ specifications, to introduce financial support schemes to reward consumers adopting ecodesigned LEDs, or to strengthen the environmental requirements of LED products put on the EU market. More detailed recommendations are presented in D8.3. Concerning the barriers identified by European LED firms that are not members of the cycLED project, detailed policy recommendations are also presented in D8.3. They include demand pull solutions, such as the promotion of a European label on LED products and services exhibiting high environmental performances in order to increase consumers’ knowledge about the benefits of ecodesign LED products and services; but also market push solutions, such as reinforcing intra-sectoral collaboration to reduce the uncertainty regarding the standard setting process in the European LED sector, especially regarding the ones affecting eco-innovation.
Synthetic presentation of key policy recommendations to overcome barriers to eco-innovation in the European LED sector
In order to facilitate the diffusion of the recommendations formulated in WP8, a concise Policy Brief has been prepared, made available online (see and presented in a policy workshop organised as a side event of the Smart Lighting conference that took place in Berlin in May 2015. These recommendations have been grouped in three categories, which include both market push and policy pull solutions:
1. Provide a safe-operating space for European LED firms
2. Strengthen the resources of European LED firms
3. Support the demand for eco-innovative LED products and services
1.4.8 WP9 Indicators for measuring eco-innovation
Three main results can be brought forward for WP9:
1. In the logical order, it makes sense to develop first RACER compliant product indicators. The focus should be placed on: Critical raw materials, recycled content in a product, recyclability of a product and the product life time (durability).
2. The consistent use of high power LED packages can tap an enormous potential for resource protection. Comparisons show that high-power LED packages contain 50 times less phosphor powder compared to mid-power LED packages for the same light output.
3. By the developed analysis methods of LED packages and LED driver, a very realistic material declaration can be created today. On this basis more eco-innovative product design can be performed. At the present, the LED lighting market is not driven by eco-innovation, but by increasing performance values. An incentive system initiated by the state could generate changes.
Findings regarding indicators for the levels Product, Company and EU
Considering the three levels product, company and EU, there is currently a major demand for the development of indicators at the product level. Companies are controlled nowadays by key figures like ROI (return on investment), CTO (capital turnover), Cash flow, etc. and TCO (total cost of ownership). On the product level, in terms of pushing eco-innovative products, key figures and indicators are still absent. The development of indicators at EU level prior to the development of indicators at the product level is also not advisable. On the one hand the EU indicators derive from the developed product indicators, on the other hand resulting calculations for the EU level mostly arise from the results at the product level multiplied by the number of products that are sold in the entire EU market. For example if a product gains a benefit of 20 percent due to an innovative change, the yield to be achieved at EU level is this 20 percent multiplied with the number of products sold in the product group when all other manufacturers would process the same or similar.
Research results product based
The application of high power LED packages is of great potential. Efficiency does not only refer to power consumption or luminous efficiency, but also to efficiency of the used materials, for example the used phosphor powder, which contains the major amount of the cycLED target materials. For the same light output, the content of phosphor powder can be reduced by a factor of around 50 if the BAT is applied consistently. Promoting the use of BAT concerning LED driver and LED packages by political decisions, promises enormous potential in regard to resource protection.
If a today’s manufacturer of LED lighting systems chooses to increase the production of eco-innovative products, he will face a large number of challenges. For example there is no chance to identify resource-efficient LED drivers. The technical data sheets contain no material declarations and no further information about the used materials. Only performance values are provided; same is true for LED packages. For the remaining product, which consists more or less of the housing, the material determination is easier. But there is only very limited knowledge of the product engineers about the environmental impact of the different materials. Finally, it may occur, and that is shown by the results of the analysis in WP9, that it is random how extensive the environmental impact of a product is. Through the non-existent knowledge about the environmental impact during the process of product design, the used materials are picked randomly. According to WILLIAM E. DEMING “You can't manage what you can't measure”.
In the material consideration of the environmental impact of an LED luminaire, phosphor powder, aluminium and gold are in the foreground: aluminium due to its often large amount in LED luminaires, phosphor powder and gold in terms of their high environmental impact values. The environmental impact of gold has been described and quantified in detail in recent years. This work was not yet done for critical raw materials like REE. The environmental data situation is way worse for REE today. To apply the Specific Energy and Resources Indicator (SERI), we took the cumulated energy demand (KEA) values. Not because the energy consumption is the major environmental problem, but because the data were available. The SERI is however in such a way developed that better environmental impact values can be used easily.
The SERI is developed in such a way to carry out mainly direct product comparison values. It provides a monitoring on different influence factors that are brought into context. A long product life time is very advantageous because currently lost cycLED target material going lost in the recycling process. If the recovery in the recycling process improves in the future, the importance of a long product life time for the environmental impact of a product decreases.
Drawing a conclusion from the calculations made within the Project, the SERI reveals the hotspots for each product. Since the reference products are chosen from the same category the product performance is similar and therefore the weighted net material consumption has the greatest influence. Especially the heavy parts of the housing - aluminium and plastics - are the greatest contributors. Within the testing process of the SERI, a sensitivity analysis has been conducted to assure a SERI value, where every term is represented appropriately. Within this process, fictive products where assumed, to see the response of the SERI value. Assuming the Braun demonstrator without any gold in the LED, the net material consumption is reduced only by about 8 percent, while assuming no gold within the driver, the net material consumption decrease by about 90 percent. Looking closer inside the driver, the highest amount of gold was found within the microcontrollers. Microcontrollers are often used to realize functionalities - a product with less functions can be more material efficient. A general recommendation therefore could be to choose a driver with less microcontrollers while stile featuring the same useful functionalities like overheating protection. The SERI still lacks on showing design alternatives directly, whereas indirectly the SERI enables a discussion on considering different business models or beneficial functionalities like using more electronics e.g. to save energy or extend the lifetime.

Potential Impact:
The research of the mass flows of target metals (TM; rare earth elements (REE) yttrium, terbium, lutetium, cer, europium; precious metals (PM) gold, silver, palladium; indium, gallium) identified yttrium and lutetium, besides the precious metals, as the most important elements in white LEDs. the mass flows of indium and gallium in LED products are not relevant, while recycling of indium and gallium in LED chip production should be promoted. These results can guide further research and focus policy makers to address the relevant waste stream in order to increase the resource efficiency of LED lighting. This will also save valuable resources for other technologies such as solar power that are indispensable for the sustainable future of the EU.
The cost-benefit analysis of various end-of-life options shows that the recycling of expensive REE like lutetium from LED products is economically viable under certain conditions with the proposed recycling route without affecting recycling of PM, provided that the last step, REE recycling from LED converters, can be proved to be viable. This result can then guide and incentivize further research and guide politics, but it also shows that REE-recycling needs to be flanked by other measures such as improvements in the quantities and quality of collection, e.g. by financial incentives for collectors. Models enabling better collection are presented and are ready for testing. Besides improving the end-of-life of LED products, an integrated approach is necessary to achieve a higher resource efficiency. The toolbox developed helps to increase resource efficiency in the various stages of the design process. Research into the main failure mechanisms of LED products enables closing the gap between the potentially long life time of LEDs and the actual life time of LED products. Such optimized products have a longer life time and thus reduce resource consumption. As a mean of dissemination, the results of the technical and end-of-life research was implemented in four demonstrators (domestic/atmospheric lighting, public lighting, industrial lighting, lighting in harsh environments). The demonstrators can be used for disseminating the new knowledge, and the principles worked out in the project are available for replication by other manufacturers. The demonstrators are embedded in business models supporting the successful commercialization of the demonstrator products, and a generic business model is available to help manufacturers of eco-innovative products not only to produce green products, but also to excel with them on the market. The business model, the toolbox, the technical approaches, the EoL research results are brought together in an eco-innovation framework to guide producers of LED products towards commercially successful resource-efficient LED products to save resources and to maintain or even increase employment in the sector.
The main dissemination activities were the various workshops conducted during the project time including a final conference presenting the and discussing the main project findings and recommendations to the public. Conference participations with presentations and posters, as well as lectures at the universities and academic organizations involved in the project are further means of dissemination and exploitation of the results.
The manufacturing partners will exploit the project results in the further development of the demonstrators to commercial products. The tools and eco-innovation approaches can guide them in product development beyond the project. The academic partners apply their knowledge in applied research for industry, and to acquire new research projects to increase and broaden the knowledge acquired in this project.

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Contact (coordinator):
Dr. Otmar Deubzer
Fraunhofer IZM
Gustav-Meyer-Allee 25,
13355 Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 46403 157