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Harmonizing Technological Innovation and End-of-Life Strategy in the Lighting Industry


Today’s globalized economy largely follows a linear “take-make-dispose” model, where natural resources are extracted to manufacture products that are eventually disposed of in a landfill. Growing constraints on key resources such as energy sources, water and materials coupled with the global increased demand for goods and services render this linear model unsustainable. To address these issues, companies and governments alike are attempting to develop circular processes that preserve natural resources and reduce the global waste burden.

As new technology products are designed and brought to market, consideration must be given to how products will be managed throughout the life-cycle as well as their end-of-life fate. This research uses light-emitting diode (LED) lighting products as a case study to assess how technological innovation can be harmonized with end-of-life strategies to create increasingly closed-loop systems, a key step to bringing the circular economy to fruition. The work will: 1) examine current end-of-life strategies, 2) analyze how various design choices and failure modes influence a product’s options at end of life, 3) assess how economic costs and environmental impacts vary among end-of-life strategies, and 4) develop a framework to determine the optimal management and end-of-life strategy for a given lighting product. Key methods employed will include product analysis, life-cycle assessment, and cost optimization. The end goal of the research is to provide a methodology for assessing the economic and environmental implications of end-of-life strategies for a given technology product.

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