European Environmental Bureau challenge Signify’s contradictory claims

Last week The Light Review published Signify: a response to EEB greenwash claims that responded to EEB’s Higher bills for millions as EU lets lighting firms milk old technology article. Here is EEB’s response.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) followed up Signify’s (formerly Philips Lighting) response by stating that the organisation is still failing to respond to EEB’s main argument, as they continue to promote toxic and inefficient lighting, putting profits before people and the environment.

Signify

 “Signify is the main force driving the switch from fluorescent lighting to energy-efficient LED and smart LED lighting systems – more than 80% of our sales being generated by energy-efficient LED products, systems and services.”

EEB

Signify’s statement is misleading, as it does not focus on the main issue of concern. Signify continues to supply old, toxic and inefficient lighting sources.  In its last four annual reports to shareholders, Signify declared their ambition to be the “last company standing” selling these old light bulbs. This shows that they are not sincere in their stated intention to be a climate friendly business.  Rather, for Signify, profits come before planet.

Signify does generate a lot of sales from LED products, but they are not the only company doing this and so profit margins are lower for LED products compared to the old, inefficient technology (where there is less competition). 

Signify

“ A ban would slow down the transition to more energy-efficient smart LED lighting systems (due to the long life of LED tubes). A product for product replacement is old thinking as the market is moving on to smart LED lighting. In Japan, the auto industry advocated hybrid vehicles. The 10–15-year life of hybrid vehicles locked in many customers, slowing the adoption of more energy-efficient electric vehicles.

 A switch to smart LED systems will increase electricity savings by up to 6% for lighting in 2030 vs 2021, in comparison to a hasty switch to LED tubes. This advantage over LED tubes will become gradually bigger in the years thereafter.”

EEB

Signify’s argument is that a delayed transition from fluorescent lamps to LED lighting will save 6% of electricity in 2030.  However, it has been shown that switching to an LED tube today can cut electricity use by 50%[1]. There is simply no need to prolong the use of inefficient lighting for another decade to save a miniscule percentage, we need to consider the damage from not seizing the opportunity of making the transition now. We cannot sacrifice our planet’s climate for the profit of a company that wants to keep selling inefficient lighting.

Signify

“The current considered approach will increase the uptake of smart LED systems, offering even greater electricity savings as well as the benefits from connecting lighting to the IoT. For example office lights you can control with your phone; lights attuned to your circadian rhythm, helping you to relax, concentrate, boost productivity; lights that provide internet connectivity, etc.)”

EEB

Smart LED systems are an important advancement in technology, while most people also want good, efficient, non-toxic lighting that works when we flip the switch. Signify has this LED technology of course, but since they make more profit selling the dated, inefficient conventional lamps, they want to keep on selling them. In their second quarter results released last week, they reported that they increased revenue in conventional technology, year on year compared to 2020, achieving an increase in sales in the declining conventional market. Signify claim they care about the environment, but by their actions prove that their main concern is to maximise profits.

Signify

The built environment and building industry will benefit from non-disruptive change. Green economic stimuli (through programs like the EU Green Deal) are prompting a more than doubling of building renovation rates to 3% per year, which supports a faster switch to smart LED lighting systems.”

EEB

A simple solution for Signify to contribute to non-disruptive change is for them to convert from fluorescent lightbulbs to LED. It is clearly evidenced that LED tubes can be directly retrofit into 91-93%[1] of the luminaires across Europe. The LED tubes last 2-3 times longer than the fluorescent bulbs and your energy bill is cut in half from day one.  The payback period can be as short as 4 months[2] from replacing a T8 fluorescent lamp with a T8 LED lamp. Signify and other companies like them need to divest from fluorescent lighting and accelerate the global transition to LED lighting today. Signify should be part of the solution, not the problem – you need only look at the floods and fires this summer to know that our people, our environment and our planet are running out of time. 

.

This response was originally published on the EEB website:


[1]  The Swedish Energy Agency and CLASP published a report that combined numerous manufacturer compatibility tables from several LED tube suppliers of T5 and T8 lamps in Europe.  The study determined the actual rate of retrofitability to be 91.4% to 93.4% across all T5 and T8 luminaires installed in Europe today. 

[2]On the website of LEDVance, one of the largest lighting suppliers in Europe, the infographic states “Payback of acquisition and replacement costs possible after only four months.”


[1] The Swedish Energy Agency and CLASP published a study in July 2020 that looked at the technical and economic feasibility of replacing fluorescent tubes with LED tubes, and the energy savings of those substitutes presented in that report is 50%. 

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John Bullock is the editor of The Light Review

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