Resource efficiency through intelligent product design

Resource protection is more urgent than ever

The International Resource Panel of the United Nations Environment Programme continuously collects figures on the extraction and use of natural resources and, in particular, the resulting environmental impacts. The latest panel reports contain alarming figures: global consumption of raw materials has more than tripled since 1970, with non-metallic mineral consumption increasing fivefold and fossil fuel consumption increasing by 45%. This is dramatic on the one hand because the natural resources of our planet are finite. However, the ever-increasing extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food must above all be slowed down because they are responsible for half of global greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to over 90% of water stress and loss of biodiversity. One instrument for countering this dangerous trend is a much more efficient use of resources.

Resource protection in the context of sustainable lighting technology

For lighting specialist TRILUX, resource efficiency means, among other things, optimising the amount of resources and materials used in luminaires. Without compromising on quality and function, TRILUX therefore focuses on reducing the volume of raw and other materials used and avoiding the use of hazardous, critical and particularly valuable substances as far as possible.

The material mix of a luminaire is essentially determined by:

  • body/housing made of metal or plastic
  • optical unit (lenses and reflectors) made of plastic
  • lighting unit with LED module and control gear unit (so-called driver with hardware for power supply, control and communication) made of a combination of materials that is classic for semiconductor-based electronic products

Thanks to continuous research and development work as well as prompt implementation of the latest technologies, TRILUX has succeeded time and again not only in improving the quality, performance and functionality of its products, but also in successfully increasing resource efficiency.

A current example is the use of so-called flip-chip LEDs. Whereas gold wires are used to connect conventional LEDs to the circuit board, flip-chip LEDs are connected by means of contact mounds that require considerably less gold. The difference is as large as a factor of 1000! As gold is one of the conflict raw materials, the extraction of which is considered to pose a particular threat to the environment and human rights, less gold in a luminaire represents a major step towards sustainability. TRILUX uses flip-chip LEDs throughout in the “Performance” product category, but their share is also growing rapidly in the rest of the portfolio.

Precise analyses, independent controls

Anyone who claims to offer resource-efficient and sustainable products must know the quantities and nature of materials are used in them. TRILUX therefore has the material mix of its luminaires examined by independent third parties. 

Laboratory analyses of this kind are necessary, for example, for declarations of conformity, audits and certifications. They provide insight on whether all legal requirements, regulations and industry standards are met. To avoid dangers to people and the environment, all TRILUX products meet the requirements of the product safety directive and are RoHS-compliant.

However, the laboratory analyses also allow evaluations to be made regarding due diligence obligations in the raw material supply chain. Conflict raw materials such as tin, gold, tantalum and tungsten or EU-declared critical raw materials can be identified. TRILUX uses this data as a point of reference for the further optimisation of its products in terms of ecological, economic and social sustainability.

ADP elements per LED SMD Flip Chip

Main factors for sustainability

Characterisation Factor Unit Environmental Relevance
Global Warming Potential
kg CO2 equivalent Increased positive radiative forcing due to the increase of greenhouse gases at the atmosphere
Primary Energy Demand
Megajoule Increased energy consumption from renewable and non-renewable energy sources
ADP elements
Abiotic Depletion Potential, Elements
kg Sb-equivalent Increased extraction of resources leading to depletion of mineral reserves
ADP fossil
Abiotic Depletion Potential, Fossil
Megajoule Increased extraction of resources leading to depletion of fossil reserves
Acidification Potential
kg SO2-equivalent Increased acidity of soil and water due to proton release from antropogenic emissions
Eutrophication Potential
kg PO4-equivalent Increased biomass formation and loss of biodiversity due to release of nutrients

Last but not least, detailed material analyses are a crucial prerequisite for assessing the impact of a product on the environment. TRILUX invests a lot of effort and know-how in these evaluations. Not only are CO2 balances created, but the ADP (abiotic depletion potential) of luminaires and components is also determined. This value stands for non-renewable material resources that the product has consumed. All types of raw materials and fossil fuels are converted into an antimony equivalent. The application of different assessment criteria (global warming potential, ADP, ozone layer depletion potential, fresh water aquatic ecotoxicity, acidification etc.) renders a much more complete picture of the environmental impact of a product. It allows for the deduction of more effective measures and makes it possible to avoid undesirable side effects when it comes to reducing the ecological footprint of a product.

Materials purchased in 2019

Category Unit Quantity
Steel parts Pieces 88.300.000
Steel Kilogram 6.600.000
Aluminium parts Pieces 3.800.000
Aluminium Kilogram 165.000
Plastic parts Pieces 19.700.000
Plastic Kilogram 3.900.000
Electrical components Pieces 23.700.000
LED modules Pieces 9.000.000
LED ECG Pieces 3.600.000
Luminaires Pieces 1.900.000
* Data from: Trilux Deutschland und ZALUX    

Management approaches

  1. Research project Repro Light (link to the article “Repro Light”)
  2. Analysis of luminaires by external laboratories according to RoHS
  3. Purchasing statistics
  4. Accounting of luminaires according to CO2e/GWP and ADP elements