"Complying with the ROHS directive

The RoHS directive – what is it? And how do you comply?

Many businesses and organisations rely on fluorescent lighting to illuminate their premises in an affordable way. While these lamps have been used for years, the health risks can no longer be ignored. This is why T5 and T8 fluorescent lamps have now been banned as part of the latest Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive.

Complying with RoHS is a good opportunity to increase energy efficiency across your estate while also cutting costs through upgrading to LED lights. We’ll break down the latest regulations and how switching your light bulbs can make all the difference for your business below.

What is the RoHS directive?

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) is an EU directive that regulates electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), the substances found within that equipment, and the risks that they pose. With the latest RoHS directive, lighting with high levels of mercury is now banned from sale – this includes T5 and T8 fluorescent lamps.

Over the years, RoHS has banned various types of equipment to reduce the impact they have on both the environment and public health – especially in the manufacturing industry and for large multi-site businesses.

Why is RoHS compliance important?

Lights and equipment using any of the listed substances can be harmful to the planet as well as their users, so reducing their use is seen as essential. Some of the issues that fluorescent lighting and other equipment can cause include:

  • High exposure risks – especially during manufacture and if the bulbs break. Mercury has been linked to several health issues – we’ll go into more detail on this later.
  • Environmental risks – while mercury naturally occurs in minerals, excessive use through human activities has led to large amounts being released into the environment – 500% more than natural levels. It can seep into water and soil and then be ingested by animals.
  • Landfill pollution – fluorescent lights have a shorter lifespan compared to other light bulbs, and are disposed of in a specific – and not always convenient – way. The ban on these lights encourages safe and more recyclable materials in electronic and equipment as a result.
  • Energy draining – fluorescent lights are more energy intensive than other lights, hindering efficiency.
  • Staying compliant – RoHS testing has become one of the most significant standards for electronics, and failing to comply can lead to fines.

Now that the legislation has passed, it will be harder to find non-RoHS lights. While many businesses have responded by purchasing fluorescents in bulk, they will need replacing eventually. Rather than having to hunt for unsafe and inefficient bulbs and pay higher prices for them, now’s the time to upgrade to LED lights and reap the benefits.

Who does the latest directive apply to?

If you’re a business that manufactures or sells electronic equipment, then you must comply with RoHS. This includes lighting, home appliances and sports equipment, to name a few. The directive applies to whether your business is a reseller or makes these items yourself.

There are some sectors where complying with RoHS may be more of a challenge, such as retail, where customer experience is key. However, lighting alternatives like LEDs can still create a bright and comfortable environment in a more efficient way.

Read more about cutting costs and generating energy savings in the retail industry.

How to comply with RoHS directive

At Ignite, we can help you seamlessly change your lighting and stay compliant with RoHS. We’ve implemented LED rollouts at a mass scale for many of our customers and have seen the impact they’ve made – especially combined with larger projects and a wider, more intelligent energy strategy.

LED vs fluorescent tube lights

LED lights outshine fluorescents in many areas, providing countless benefits when making the switch. Businesses like M&S have saved £350k from installing LED and BMS systems throughout their stores with Ignite and our team of contractors, demonstrating the difference changing your lighting can make.

Energy efficiency

LED lighting uses less energy than fluorescents as they produce light without heat. As they consume less energy, they also cost less to run. Think of how long lights are left on throughout your estate throughout the day – those hours rack up and are most likely a significant contribution to your energy bills. In fact, it’s said that 20% of the UK’s energy bills come from lighting.

Fluorescent lights exacerbate this issue as they flicker and take a while to fully brighten a room as they start to warm up, using more energy in the process. Making the switch to LED lighting is an all-important step in your energy efficiency strategy, reducing consumption across your estate.

Saving money

Reduced consumption also means reduced energy bills, and while LED lights have a larger upfront cost, they have a return on investment of 1-3 years so they’ll start paying for themselves in no time.

LEDs have a longer lifespan – up to 70,000 hours – so they’re more durable than traditional, non-RoHS lighting. This also means less maintenance and site visits, and less disruption on sites as there’s no need to buy and replace bulbs as often. You’re also not spending as much money on energy consumption, especially if you install controls such as sensors to minimise usage throughout the day.

Working environment

As already mentioned, T5 and T8 lights are made from harmful materials like mercury, but they rely on ultraviolet and phosphor coatings as well. These are all toxic materials which can lead to health issues if exposed for long periods of time, including headaches and dizziness, insomnia and eye irritation.

In a time when businesses are under more scrutiny for employee wellbeing, having these substances in the workplace can impact employee performance and result in illness. Replacing light bulbs may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to increasing morale, and, by extension, productivity, but it can make a difference. There’s also no impact on customer experience as LED can be as bright as fluorescent lighting, just without a harsh glare.

Lighting and efficiency projects

At Ignite, we roll out large-scale LED lighting upgrades as part of energy efficiency projects. We take a bespoke approach to these rollouts, aware that business needs can vary across various industries. That’s why we take the time to get to know you and your goals and make sure that the roll out causes minimal disruption to each site.

We also enhance your lighting controls with our custom dashboards and BMS optimisations. After collecting and analysing data across your estate, we’ll identify usage trends for individual sites as well as any anomalies suggesting potential issues, including lights left on after hours. You can then remotely switch electrics on and off and install features like dimmers for behind-the-scene areas, such as stockrooms.

The data collated in your reports will also clearly show how much you’ve saved since your LED installation, ensuring that you’re meeting targets and staying within budget.

Another key element of the RoHS directive is the Declaration of Conformity. If you manufacture or sell electronics or equipment that may feature harmful substances, you must complete a Declaration of Conformity detailing batch and serial numbers for your products. You should also include documentation regarding their manufacturing process. Our expert team will work closely with you to meet deadlines and ensure your RoHS compliance.

Lighting solutions from Ignite

The latest RoHS directive is a fantastic opportunity to upgrade to LED lighting and reduce consumption throughout your estate. As well as the financial benefits, you can increase energy efficiency and place you one step closer to achieving net zero.

Ignite can manage this process for you and ensure you’re RoHS compliant as part of our efficiency projects. We’ll then continually monitor consumption so that you know you’re meeting targets and reaping the benefits. Get in touch with our team to find out more:

Tom Henthorn:

Aaron Coultrip: