30 Sept 2016
Ban on Certain Halogen Bulbs Commences, Paving Way for Wider Ban in Two Years’ Time
The EU ban on certain halogen light bulbs began applying EU-wide on 1 September 2016. This has come about pursuant to Commission Regulation 1194/2012 which has established ecodesign requirements for the placing on the market of directional lamps and some other electrical lighting products.
Hong Kong’s lighting sellers may already know that, under the applicable EU law, the term “directional lamp” is defined as a lamp having at least 80% light output within a solid angle of “π sr” (corresponding to a cone with an angle of 120°). As from 1 September 2016, directional lamps to be placed on the market in the EU have to meet the energy efficiency requirements (and in particular the energy efficiency index or “EEI”) set out in Regulation 1194/2012, Annex III, Table 2, under the so-called “Stage 3”.
The requirements set out for this “Stage 3” apply since 1 September 2016 to directional lamps that are to be placed on the market in the EU. It is being reported that these requirements result in a ban especially for GU10 halogen spotlights and PAR30 halogen floodlights.
These requirements however do not apply to products that have been placed on the market in the EU before 1 September 2016 and which are therefore already on the shelves in stores or in stock in the EU. It is being reported that retailers in the EU, in particular in Great Britain, are defying the current ban by having stockpiled large volumes of directional halogen spotlights which do not meet the stricter energy efficiency requirements, but which were placed on the market in the EU before 1 September 2016 and may therefore still be sold.
These old-style halogen spotlights are popular with consumers, as they are cheaper to buy than the LED versions. It is reported that supermarkets and major hardware stores in Great Britain have stockpiled tens of millions of these bulbs to ensure that their customers will be able to still buy the old-style spotlights for years to come.
Hong Kong lighting sellers should take careful note that the ban which entered into force on 1 September 2016 pursuant to Commission Regulation 1194/2012 paves the way for another and wider ban, i.e., a ban targeting inefficient “D”-class halogen lamps. This ban was initially intended to also apply from 1 September 2016, but was delayed by two years, until 1 September 2018.
The wider ban on halogen lamps is based on Commission Regulation 244/2009, which establishes ecodesign requirements for placing on the market of non-directional household lamps, including when these lamps are marketed for non-household use or when they are integrated into other products. As Hong Kong’s lighting sellers may already know, the term “household lamp” means a lamp intended for household room illumination and does not include special purpose lamps; while a non-directional lamp is one which is not “directional” in nature.
Commission Regulation 244/2009 stipulates in particular that non-directional household lamps have to meet certain lamp efficacy requirements set out in its Annex II, Table 1. As from the so-called “Stage 6” referred to in Regulation 244/2009, which was originally intended to start on 1 September 2016, stricter lamp efficacy requirements apply. These stricter lamp efficacy requirements would have meant that inefficient “D”-class halogen lamps could no longer be placed on the EU market as from 1 September 2016. However, Hong Kong lighting sellers may recall that in 2015, the European Commission completed a review of Commission Regulation 244/2009 regarding the ecodesign requirements for non-directional household lamps in light of technological progress, which led to the postponement of the entry into force of “Stage 6” of Regulation 244/2009 by two years, i.e. until 1 September 2018.
According to the Commission, the review of Commission Regulation 244/2009 revealed that it did not appear to be economically feasible for manufacturers to develop and place on the market, as from 1 September 2016, the type of lamps achieving the limit set for “Stage 6” in Table 1 of Regulation 244/2009 regarding the maximum rated power for a given rated luminous flux. Indeed, an assessment of the predicted developments of more energy efficient lighting technologies indicated that a more optimal point in time for the introduction of that limit would be 1 September 2018.
In April 2015, after a narrow vote in the EU’s Ecodesign Regulatory Committee, a decision was therefore reached to postpone the phase-out of halogen bulbs from 1 September 2016 to 1 September 2018. This came about due to intense lobbying from the lighting industry, which demonstrated its concerns to the European Commission and EU Member States about the lack of readiness of LED technology. It is generally believed that such technology will replace halogen lamps, once the latter are completely phased out.
The postponement of the phase-out of halogen light bulbs in accordance with Regulation 244/2009 from the initial date of 1 September 2016 to 1 September 2018 has since been reflected in Commission Regulation 2015/1428.