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The product life cycle comprises the entire life of a product, from raw material extraction and acquisition, through material production and manufacturing, to use and end of life treatment including recycling and final disposal. In other words, a product life cycle encompasses the consecutive and interlinked stages of a product from cradle to grave, or rather from cradle to cradle with regard to recycling.
Our products affect the environment in a variety of ways. Obviously, they are made in factories that have an environmental footprint and they significantly impact on the environment during their use. However, in order to evaluate lamps and how they actually deal with energy and resources, it is not enough just to consider single stages of their life cycle. Thus, the life cycle analysis (LCA) of a product considers the environmental aspects and potential environmental impacts of a product throughout its entire life cycle.
In order to assess the environmental performance of OSRAM products, life cycle analyses of several specific products were conducted, representing different technologies. The method for these analyses was an assessment as outlined in the international standards ISO 14040 and 14044. Apart from the primary energy consumption, the impact on the environment was evaluated in specific categories.
Primary energy is the energy embodied in natural resources like coal, oil or sunlight that has not yet undergone any anthropogenic transformation such as the conversion to electricity. The primary energy demand is ideal for comparison purposes as it summarizes the energy needed for the different stages of a product life cycle.
The life cycle analyses of OSRAM products showed that the use phase is responsible for almost all of the energy consumption, ranging between 98.5 and 99.5 percent. Correspondingly, the energy demand during manufacturing and other life cycle stages played a rather insignificant role with less than 1.5 percent.
A further objective of these life cycle assessments was to compare different OSRAM lamp types with each other regarding their total environmental impacts throughout the entire life cycle.
Hence, the life cycles of four domestic lighting products were the object of comparison. A 40 W incandescent lamp was compared with a halogen lamp, a compact fluorescent lamp and an LED lamp, all featuring similar lumen outputs. To ensure comparability of the different lamp types a lifetime of 25 000 hours was taken as a reference parameter. This can either be provided by one LED lamp with an average lifetime of 25 000 hours or several lamps with shorter lifetimes.
Number of lamps required for 25 000 hours of light
The graph below shows the total primary energy demand of the above-mentioned lamp types in comparison. It immediately becomes clear that the incandescent lamp has the highest impact due to its energy demand. By comparison, the efficient LED lamp and compact fluorescent lamp demonstrate a much lower energy demand and are therefore preferable. Moreover, the graph outlines the difference in energy demand between the manufacturing and use phase. It demonstrates the comparatively minute impact of the energy consumption during manufacturing. Although the influence is small, it can still be seen that compact fluorescent and LED lamps require far less primary energy during production than the corresponding number of incandescent and halogen lamps needed to provide light for 25 000 hours.
Cumulated Energy Demand based on 25 000 hours of light
The above-mentioned specific lamps are not exactly equivalent but feature a similar light output. Nevertheless, the general statement remains the same. As the energy consumption during use is the most significant impact of the lamps, the luminous efficacy is the most important sustainability indicator. Numerous independent institutions such as the US Department of Energy or the Swiss Materials Science & Technology Institution (EMPA) came to similar results.