Reduce, reuse, recycle and renew

Show how your business can go green by learning how to reduce your carbon footprint and being smart about job site waste.
A recycling graphic in front of evergreen pine needles

In today’s world there is a large movement to reduce the carbon footprint on the earth. “Being green” has become a way of life for many. Many landscape companies are putting forth a great effort to this cause. What about landscape lighting?

The good news is that low-voltage landscape lighting was green before it was cool! Back in the halogen days, our light sources were very efficient. A 50W MR16 lamp provided the same amount of light as a 120V 150W incandescent flood light. With the use of LED lamps and integrated fixtures, now we can save our clients at least 80% of their outdoor electrical cost. As far as electrical efficiency, we are doing very well with reducing the carbon footprint.

But wait, what are we doing to reduce the carbon footprint in our installation practices? How much waste from a new installation can be recycled or repurposed? Let’s look at some job components that can be reused or recycled.

Cardboard boxes

Cardboard boxes can certainly clutter a job site if we are not careful. Most of these boxes can be recycled. Boxes should be broken down and placed in a recycling bin or taken off the job site to a recycling location. If you don’t like dealing with individual boxes on the job site, many manufacturers offer bulk packed fixtures. This helps save time on assembly, as well as minimize the cardboard box pile.

The good news is that low-voltage landscape lighting was green before it was cool!


Most metal fixtures can be recycled or repurposed. This is especially true with copper and brass fixtures. In my travels across the country, I have met some contractors who will repurpose some of the fixtures being replaced on a job. In one scenario, fixtures that were being replaced on a job were still in good shape. These fixtures would be brought back to the shop to be cleaned, repaired and resold on another job. Perhaps there was an area on another job that was not in the budget. These contractors would use the repurposed fixtures to provide that little something extra for the client. These fixtures are also often donated on a charity job to give back to the community. Other fixtures would be saved in moderation for repair parts.

Metal scrapping can be another way to recycle. In most cases copper and brass fixtures can be rather valuable as scrap metal. The more the fixture is disassembled and cleaned, the more scrap value it has. You can always check online for current scrap values in your area.


It is not very often that a magnetic or toroidal core transformer burns out. Most of the time it is the control device that fails. Most plug-and-play transformers can be reused on a job and that can free up the budget to be used on more or better fixtures. If this is not an option and the transformer is still functioning properly, it can be repurposed for a donation or as a demo unit to use for troubleshooting. Should the transformer no longer function, it can be sold as scrap.


When installing a new job, removing old cable from the ground can help reduce the carbon footprint. This also helps with troubleshooting in the future. If old cable is left in the ground, it may slow down the repair process. Old cable can be recycled with the insulation left on. Some contractors invest in wire stripping machines. These are predominately found online and range in prices. Stripping the insulation from the cable leads to a higher scrap value.

LED lamps and integrated fixtures

In some areas, used LED lamps and integrated fixtures can also be recycled. LED products contain a variety of metals, plastic and glass. Check with your local scrap dealers or city recycling program to see if they accept these items.

According to the EPA, there are significant benefits that can come from adopting an ecological program. This includes reducing pollution and greenhouse gasses. It is important for all of us to do our part in protecting our earth for future generations.

Kevin Smith is the national technical support and trainer at Brilliance LED LLC, Carefree, Arizona, and can be reached via email.

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