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Title: Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy and Environmental Impacts of LED Lighting Products, Part 3: LED Environmental Testing

This report covers the third part of a larger U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) project to assess the life-cycle environmental and resource impacts in the manufacturing, transport, use, and disposal of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting products in relation to incumbent lighting technologies. All three reports are available on the DOE website ( • Part 1: Review of the Life-Cycle Energy Consumption of Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent and LED Lamps; • Part 2: LED Manufacturing and Performance; • Part 3: LED Environmental Testing. Parts 1 and 2 were published in February and June 2012, respectively. The Part 1 report included a summary of the life-cycle assessment (LCA) process and methodology, provided a literature review of more than 25 existing LCA studies of various lamp types, and performed a meta-analysis comparing LED lamps with incandescent and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Drawing from the Part 1 findings, Part 2 performed a more detailed assessment of the LED manufacturing process and used these findings to provide a comparative LCA taking into consideration a wider range of environmental impacts. Both reports concluded that the life-cycle environmental impact of a given lamp is dominated by the energy used during lamp operation—the upstream generation of electricity drives themore » total environmental footprint of the product. However, a more detailed understanding of end-of-life disposal considerations for LED products has become increasingly important as their installation base has grown. The Part 3 study (reported herein) was undertaken to augment the LCA findings with chemical analysis of a variety of LED, CFL, and incandescent lamps using standard testing procedures. A total of 22 samples, representing 11 different models, were tested to determine whether any of 17 elements were present at levels exceeding California or Federal regulatory thresholds for hazardous waste. Key findings include: • The selected models were generally found to be below thresholds for Federally regulated elements; • All CFLs and LED lamps and most incandescent lamps exceeded California thresholds for Copper; • Most CFL samples exceeded California thresholds for Antimony and Nickel, and half of the LED samples exceeded California thresholds for Zinc; • The greatest contributors were the screw bases, drivers, ballasts, and wires or filaments; • Overall concentrations in LED lamps were comparable to cell phones and other types of electronic devices, and were generally attributable to components other than the internal LED light sources; • Although the life-cycle environmental impact of the LED lamps is favorable when compared to CFLs and incandescent lamps, recycling will likely gain importance as consumer adoption increases. This study was exploratory in nature and was not intended to provide a definitive indication of regulatory compliance for any specific lamp model or technology. Further study would be needed to more broadly characterize the various light source technologies; to more accurately and precisely characterize a specific model; or to determine whether product redesign would be appropriate.« less
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
LED; light-emitting diode; CFL; incandescent; halogen; lamp; bulb; TCLP; STLC; TTLC; WET; hazardous waste; electronic waste; e-waste; universal waste; toxicity