Report highlights Electronic waste is a huge issue, with Statista estimating nearly 50 million metric tons were generated globally last year alone. Some of the materials traditionally used in LED lamp and luminaire components contribute to e-waste, and the industry is seeking more sustainable material alternatives. Thermally conductive (TC) polycarbonates, like those from Covestro, can replace aluminum in heat sinks, providing just such a replacement option.
Polycarbonate Components to Design Sustainable Luminaires
To help the lighting industry reduce its environmental footprint, Eneref Institute, a research and advocacy organization for sustainable development, recently released a report that advocates for the use of polycarbonate for heat sinks in LED luminaires. The report, titled “Employing Polycarbonate Components to Design Sustainable Luminaires,” examines opportunities to replace aluminum component parts in these applications with polycarbonate.
Environmental Benefits of Polycarbonate for Heat Sinks
According to the report, thermoplastic heat sinks are a more environmentally friendly option as the energy needed to recycle thermoplastics is one-fourth that of aluminum. As a thermoplastic material, polycarbonate requires less energy for shipping and utilizes a drilling process that is less destructive to the environment than mining for aluminum. Additionally, polycarbonate can be economically recycled into secondary, post-industry applications.
Advantages over Aluminum
In addition to these key benefits, Makrolon® TC polycarbonates from Covestro offer several other advantages over aluminum in heat sinks. For example, these materials safely dissipate heat at a significantly lower weight and feature the option to be integrated with other components.
“With a reduced complexity through integration of functionalities, Makrolon® TC polycarbonates offer a competitive, sustainable edge over other material solutions,” said Antti Ake, global head of LED lighting – Polycarbonates, Covestro. “At Covestro, sustainability is at our core, which is why we work to create products and technologies that benefit society and reduce our environmental impact.”
Eneref is not advocating for the use of polymers, like plastic bags or bottles, which should be recycled but more often end up as unrecycled waste, according to Seth Warren Rose, founding director, Eneref Institute. “Instead, we are advocating for the use of polymers as fully reclaimable, reusable and recyclable products.”