- Electromagnetic field
- Energy-saving with ballasts
- Mercury content of fluorescent lamps
- Protect nocturnal insects
- UV filter technology
Why is the electromagnetic field of OSRAM lighting systems easy on the environment and our health?
Electromagnetic fields occur wherever there are large amounts of electricity and are part of everyday life in industrial countries. There is increasing debate about the term "electro-smog" and its possible harmful effects on people, especially from power lines and telecommunications facilities.
Incandescent lamps have the weakest electromagnetic fields. Stronger fields are produced by ballast-driven mercury lamps, halogen metal vapor lamps, and fluorescent lamps.
All our lighting systems are easy on the environment and your health, with electromagnetic fields that are significantly below domestic and international limits. In addition to the ballast and type of lamp, the construction of a lamp also determines the strength of the electromagnetic fields that it produces.
Energy-saving with ballasts
What are ballasts and why can you save energy with them?
Energy-saving lamps require a ballast to operate. The ballast provides a high initial voltage to initiate the discharge, then rapidly limits the lamp current to safely sustain the discharge. Without a ballast, the discharge lamp would quickly burn out.
There are basically two types of ballasts: conventional and electronic. Ballasts can make an important contribution to saving energy. Electronic ballasts are the most energy efficient, and they are increasingly gaining in popularity on the market. They use less energy and significantly increase the service life of the lamp - while still achieving the same level of lumen output as conventional ballasts.
Experts estimate that replacing all conventional ballasts with electronic ballasts would reduce energy consumption in Germany (taking into account the operating life of the lamps) by 6.5 billion kilowatt hours a year. Installing sensor-controlled, electronic dimming ballasts would increase these annual energy savings to an impressive 10 billion kilowatt hours. This is roughly the equivalent of the electrical power annually consumed by 2 million 4-person households in Germany.
Mercury content of fluorescent lamps
Can the mercury content of fluorescent lamps be reduced to protect the environment?
A small amount of mercury (a few milligrams) is required in a fluorescent or compact fluorescent lamp for the discharge reaction to function properly. Without this mercury, the lighting efficiency of the lamp would be reduced by two-thirds. Using current technology, it would be uneconomical to eliminate the mercury in most lamps.
Over the years, continuing research and development at OSRAM has made it possible to significantly reduce the amount of mercury in fluorescent lamps (since 1976 by up to 90% for LUMILUX and DULUX lamps).
Protect nocturnal insects
What does OSRAM do to protect nocturnal insects?
When dusk falls, lights go on in towns and cities. For many nocturnal insects, street lamps and other urban lighting can become a death trap because the flying insects easily lose their orientation and head into the lights. This is especially true of lighting systems that have a large amounts of UV rays, for example, outdoor lighting with mercury vapor lamps. In contrast to humans, insects can see the UV light. Studies have shown a decline in the numbers and variety of insects in areas surrounding outdoor lighting facilities.
In recent years, OSRAM has responded to this problem by developing a wide range of sodium vapor lamps for outdoor use. In comparison to the light from mercury vapor lamps, sodium vapor attracts up to 85% fewer insects.
UV filter technology
Why does OSRAM use UV filter technology in halogen lamps to protect the environment and our health?
In addition to light, halogen lamps emit ultraviolet radiation (rays). Quartz glass used for conventional lamps allows these UV rays to freely pass through the bulb. In order to prevent this, OSRAM is the first lamp manufacturer to use UV filter technology for its entire range of halogen lamps. OSRAM halogen lamps are made of quartz glass that is doped, meaning that it has been enriched with substances that absorb UV rays. This significantly reduces the amount of unwanted UV rays in the light.
OSRAM UV filter technology is highly effective in preventing UV-B and UV-C rays from penetrating the glass. These high-energy rays can cause sunburn and conjunctivitis. Only half of the low-energy UV-A rays go through the glass. Another advantage of doped glass is that it reduces fading effects on textiles due to UV rays.
How can I learn more about the products?
Lamps play a special role in waste disposal. About 80% of used electrical equipment is made up of lamps, even though their share of the total weight of electrical waste is only 1%. The waste disposal costs per lamp total to about 10 to 50% of the production costs. The costs for collection, transport and recycling for all lamps governed by the German electrical and electronic goods act are charged by OSRAM at a uniform rate and shown separately on the invoice.
Disposal of fluorescent lamps
How can old fluorescent lamps be disposed of in way that is environmentally friendly?
Even the best OSRAM lamps eventually "burn out". So the question is, what happens with burned out fluorescent lamps?
Back in 1981, OSRAM found a solution to this problem that it calls the Cap Separation Process. Using this process, for the first time it was possible to recycle virtually all the substances in old fluorescent lamps. When it comes to lamps from the LUMILUX-PLUS product generation, today all of the fluorescent substances can be recycled, along with all the glass and aluminium. Recycling makes sense because it takes a relatively large amount of energy to manufacture these substances.
In the mid-1980s, the Cap Separation Process made it possible to establish a nationwide collecting and recycling organization. The disposal companies send the collected recyclable materials to OSRAM where they are used in production. This completes the recycling process.
How can I learn more about the products?
OSRAM has produced product data sheets for most product groups to provide an overview of their functions and materials. The product data sheets are available through the following link:
Recycling of discharge lamps
Can discharge lamps be effectively recycled?
It is essential for ecological reasons to dispose of products containing contaminants in an environmentally friendly manner at the end of the products' lifecycle. Valuable raw materials may also be regained by recycling - for example, glass: mass products, such as the tubular-shaped fluorescent lamp are separated using the 'Kapp-Trenn' (trim and separate) process in order to recover more than 90% pure-grade soda lime glass for melting for reuse in new products.
There are also recycling processes for other lamp types that have a high level of material reuse. Effective recycling requires that tubular fluorescent lamps are collected cleanly and separately from other lamps. However, the lamps do not have to be sorted according to manufacturer or date of manufacture, because the lamp industry's collection system applies to all lamps.
Recycling of fluorescent lamps and lights
Why do fluorescent lamps and lighting fixtures have to be collected?
Fluorescent lamps contain minor quantities of mercury. Self-ballasted compact fluorescent lamps also have an electronic component in their base. According to the German electrical and electronic goods act these materials must be separated from the products and separately handled. Lighting fixtures usually have materials such as aluminium and steel, for example. Such materials should be recycled. Lighting fixtures may also contain electronic components.
Recycling of lamps
What lamps are recycled?
The Elektro- und Elektronikgerätegesetz (ElektroG) - the German electrical and electronic goods act - prescribes recycling of the following OSRAM products:
- Fluorescent lamps
- Compact fluorescent lamps
- Discharge lamps, including high-pressure sodium-vapor lamps and metal-vapor lamps
- Low-pressure sodium-vapor lamps
- Light fixtures for commercial use
The German electrical and electronic goods act does not prescribe recycling for filament lamps, including halogen lamps and lighting fixtures from private households (residential lighting).