Signify addresses Minamata Convention position on moving to mercury-free lighting

March 18, 2022
Signify CEO Eric Rondolat shares an open letter in response to policy advocate Roger Baro's urgent requests for industry support in backing a regulated transition away from mercury-containing linear lamps.

In October 2021, LEDs Magazine published a letter from reader Roger Baro, who is also a Burkina Faso-based policymaker and the vice president of the 4thMeeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP4) of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. In that letter, Baro summarized the Minamata Convention's proposals, backed by global health and environmental concerns that weigh heavily on African nations in particular, urging the lighting industry to fully support a phase-out of all mercury-containing lighting. Baro specifically called on Signify, the world's largest lighting company, to demonstrate its commitment to developing and promoting the adoption of mercury-free lighting products. In his letter, he asked Signify CEO Eric Rondolat to support the proposed amendment to remove mercury-based lighting from the market by 2025.

In return, Signify representatives have shared with LEDs an open letter written by Rondolat to Baro and the Minamata Convention participants, addressing Signify's commitments to sustainability and its timeline for achieving objectives that fall under such policy as proposed in the African Lighting Amendment. We welcome readers and companies to share their thoughts on the proposals. Please continue this respectful discourse and collaboration to the benefit of global society and sustainable business opportunities for solid-state lighting. Email us your feedback, comment on our LEDs Magazine Linkedin page, and share this information with your business associates.

Carrie Meadows, Managing Editor, LEDs Magazine


To: Roger Baro, Vice President of the 4th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP4) of the Minamata Convention on Mercury

& All participants of COP-4 (21-25 March, Bali)

Subject: Signify position on the transition from mercury containing LF to LED lighting

Date: 15 March 2022

Dear Roger and participants of the COP-4 Minamata Convention on Mercury,

Signify, being the global leader in lighting, fully subscribes to the goals of the Minamata Convention, and intends to actively support countries in their fastest possible transition from conventional lighting to smart, LED-based lighting products, whenever these are viable and available.

The position of Signify regarding the next steps to switch from conventional fluorescent lighting to smart LED-based lighting products is to support country specific import and sales bans guided by thorough processes per country as outlined below, and to recommend one single, global manufacturing ban instead of a country specific manufacturing ban, to avoid the chance of adverse effects of the Minamata agreement on the environment.

More specifically, in the context of the upcoming convention, Signify would like to offer the following reflections for the participating parties to consider.

1. An import ban (and/or sales ban) of linear fluorescent lamps (LFLs) requires careful planning, and achievable timelines are different by country.

Signify, having reduced mercury content in linear fluorescent lamps from 20 to 2 milligram over the years, is equally committed to, and fully supportive of next steps to bring emissions from fluorescent lighting for general lighting purposes to zero. Signify already has successfully deployed hundreds of millions of LED replacements for linear fluorescent lighting, leveraging our latest innovations for ease of installation and an optimal user experience.

These deployments have also brought insights in challenges that specific country situations may bring. In several countries, to abandon LFLs, users will need to re-wire or replace significant amounts of existing fixtures. Consumers and owners of lighting infrastructures need to plan for these adjustments, which at country level may also require the need for training many certified installers to ensure the safety and quality of the LED replacements. Similar points have also been made in the position paper by the Global Lighting Association, which captures the market insights of various trade associations across the globe.

The financial, human and supply chain resources associated with the transition require careful and timely planning, both logistically and financially. Such planning may e.g. be based on the following steps:

    • Mapping out the landscape of installed LFLs (volumes / types) in the country
    • Identifying technical challenges and boundary conditions for LED replacements
    • Identifying viable LED alternatives
    • Assessing transition costs, including installation, and need for resources and training
    • Determining timelines and the need for government stimulation plans
    • Setting up communication, education, and training programs
    • Implementing phase-out policies accompanied with enforcement methods

Signify recommends Minamata Convention participants to thoroughly investigate market situations and to implement the phase-out of LFLs for general lighting purposes by executing a well-defined process towards regulation and supportive measures for end users.

Signify offers to assist countries in accelerating the transition by actively supporting such implementation plans in partnership with multilateral organizations.

2. A manufacturing and export ban only has the desired effect when the last manufacturing country ends its manufacturing. For the current treaty, implementation dates among countries are more than 5 years apart. Plans that were initiated in 2013 are still waiting for final realization only after 2025. Different time schedules, partly caused by long exemption periods, bring along the risk that manufacturing moves from countries with more stringent environmental rules to countries having less strict rules, or from manufacturing sites having technical capabilities to limit the use of mercury to others that lack these capabilities, resulting in lamps containing e.g., 5 times more mercury than best-in-class lamps today.

A poorly orchestrated manufacturing ban may lead to unnecessary additional amounts of mercury being released into the environment.

Signify therefore calls upon the Minamata Convention to work towards one single date on which manufacturing will be phased out globally by well-enforced regulations.

Brighter Lives, Better World

As global leaders of innovation in lighting we believe we play an important role in helping to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Our 2020 Brighter Lives, Better World commitments ensure that our products, systems, and services continue to secure a more sustainable future. We believe that we can drive change to achieve the global goals best by focusing on the areas where we can be most influential, and that includes bringing in perspectives from the markets in which we operate and from our customers across the globe.

Our recommendations to the Minamata Convention reflect our unequivocal drive towards serving the world with mercury-free lighting.

Kind regards,

Eric Rondolat

CEO, Signify

© Signify Holding. All rights reserved.

Signify, N.V.

Edge West, 10 Basisweg,

1043 AP Amsterdam Sloterdijk, NL

*Introductory text, summary, and headline developed by Carrie Meadows. Unedited letter by Signify published in full with permission, with links added for related content and GLA position paper reference.

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About the Author

Carrie Meadows | Editor-in-Chief, LEDs Magazine

Carrie Meadows has more than 20 years of experience in the publishing and media industry. She worked with the PennWell Technology Group for more than 17 years, having been part of the editorial staff at Solid State Technology, Microlithography World, Lightwave, Portable Design, CleanRooms, Laser Focus World, and Vision Systems Design before the group was acquired by current parent company Endeavor Business Media.

Meadows has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards, and has volunteered as a judge on several B2B editorial awards committees. She received a BA in English literature from Saint Anselm College, and earned thesis honors in the college's Geisel Library. Without the patience to sit down and write a book of her own, she has gladly undertaken the role of editor for the writings of friends and family.

Meadows enjoys living in the beautiful but sometimes unpredictable four seasons of the New England region, volunteering with an animal shelter, reading (of course), and walking with friends and extended "dog family" in her spare time.