Recycling LEDs Becomes a Pressing Issue

What is LED?

LED stands for Light-emitting diode, first used in 1968. LED, a semiconductor light source, has been widely adopting for assorted lighting usages and has been slowly replacing incandescent lights over the recent years. Although LED is much more environmental-friendly than traditional lighting fixtures, reusing and recycling LEDs is still a very crucial issue.

LED’s Advantages and Applications

LED lights have the following edges over incandescent light bulbs:

A) LEDs have longer lifespan than that of incandescent light bulbs; the former’s average lifespan is 50,000 hours, while the latter’s is merely 1,200 hours.

B) LED consumes less electricity and provides higher brightness, which makes it a more energy-saving and environmental-friendly choice, not to mention that LED light bulb does not contain mercury like CFL light bulb does. LED light bulb is highly endurable, and therefore, it lasts longer than a traditional light bulb. LED is also immune to the climate variations such as humidity and temperature. A LED light bulb’s CO2 emission is only one tenth of that of a traditional light bulb

LEDs have been adopted in various fields, including display, laboratory equipment, mobile device, watch, calculator, household lighting, retail store lighting, traffic signal, automotive lighting...etc. LEDs will see an even wider adoption in the future in day-to-day life and various industries.

Reuse of LED

As far as the product cycle is concerned, LED is considered environmental-friendly, but it will be even more so if LED can be recycled. In fact, more than 95% of LEDs can be recycled.
If a LED light contains no hazardous substances, then it meets the standards set by Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS). RoHS directive took effect on 1 July 2006, which restricts the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment. The Directive restricts the sales of products that contain lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), hexavalent chromium (Cr6+), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE). Per the Directive, LED is recyclable.

In the United Kingdom, LED lights are controlled by Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) regulations. The regulations is to encourage people to recycle electrical and electronic equipment. Recently the U.K. government changed the WEEE regulations and set up a new recycling network called Recolight, which all LED firms are requested to abide by.

Importance of Recycling LEDs

Even though LED lights are already environmental-friendly, they will have less negative impact on the environment if recycled correctly. According to the recent research, most LEDs contain a great amount of nickel, and the colored LEDs contain a lot of lead and arsenic. These substances are harmful to the environment and the health of human beings. Despite the fact that LEDs are a more environmental-friendly choice compared to traditional lights, they still can not be simply thrown away after they expired. Given the climbing demand and usage of LED lights, recycling LEDs may prove to be more critical than prolonging the lifespan of LEDs.

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