Why the TM66 Circular Economy Assured Scheme is great news for everyone

We’re big fans of the new TM66 Circular Economy Assured ratings scheme that’s designed to give a truer reflection of the circular economy credentials of lighting products. TM66 is just one part of a package of initiatives created to make it easier to assess and verify the environmental friendliness of lighting products.

Above all, the scheme makes it easier to spot the greenwashing that can paint a false picture of products that position themselves as sustainable but, on closer inspection, are anything but.

The TM66 Circular Economy Assured scheme provides a level of credibility and transparency that the industry has been crying out for. It gives clients and specifiers the reassurance they need that any product certified under the scheme meets the minimum circular economy standards for lighting design and manufacture.

How the scheme came about

Published in 2021, TM66 offers practical guidance and tools to enable the sector to deliver a circular, sustainable approach to lighting and building services engineering. The voluntary scheme is a product of the joint contributions of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL).

There was also valuable input from lighting manufacturers, designers and end users, as well as guidance from the government and the renowned Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Adding credibility to circular economy claims

The certification programme lends ‘weight and credibility’ to Circular Economy Assessment Methods (CEAM), the self-assessment methodology used to evaluate products, says Bob Bohannon, lead author of TM66: “Products with recognised sustainability marks attract higher rates of specification; it is important to ensure that specifiers can trust the claims made.”

According to CIBSE, an impressive list of leading specifiers and organisations have already started using the scheme which could soon be adopted by other areas of building services engineering.

Judging a range of different criteria

So how does it work? Lighting products are measured against 66 circular economy criteria covering product design, manufacturing, materials and ‘ecosystem’. These criteria include everything from reusability to repairability.

As you would expect, all claims must be supported by credible evidence. If there’s a lack of clarity around this, a product’s credentials can be verified in the LIA’s UKAS-accredited laboratory.

Meaningful measurement

The significance of TM66 is that it reflects the shift in emphasis within the built industry away from a superficial measurement of energy efficiency to carefully scrutinising the all-encompassing whole-life carbon, embodied carbon and full life cycle of materials. For anyone truly interested in sustainability, this is a huge step forward.

TM66 defines the Circular Economy and then assesses how each industry sector can adopt circular principles. CEAM turns a complex subject into an easy-to-understand star rating, providing both manufacturers and specifiers with independent metrics to compare one product with another.

Highly applauded initiative

Prior to publication, the concept behind the new TM66 guidance won the highest accolade at the Build Back Better Awards, judged by an independent panel of industry thought leaders.

Now it’s for real and that’s a testament to the hard-working and persistent individuals who volunteered their time, knowledge and expertise to make it happen. An incredible effort for the benefit of the lighting industry and the public, and an initiative we wholeheartedly support.