Selling Light, not Light Bulbs

One of the keynote speakers at the upcoming Zero Waste Conference pushing for adoption of Circular Economy thought and action at one of the world’s largest electronics companies – Philips.

There’s a good chance you’ve already used one of a Philips product today. Based in Amsterdam, they have three primary divisions focused in the areas of healthcare, consumer lifestyle and lighting.

The company has made environmental sustainability a priority, and are becoming a prominent advocate of the circular economy, having become a strategic partner of the Ellen MacArthur foundation in June 2013.


According to Philips CEO Frans Van Houten:

“For a sustainable world, the transition from a linear to a circular economy is a necessary boundary condition. A circular economy requires innovation in the areas of material, component and product reuse, as well as related business models. By using materials more effectively, economic growth will eventually be decoupled from the use of natural resources and ecosystems. In such an economy, the lower use of raw materials allows us to create more value.”

Toward this goal, Philips has introduced several noteworthy innovations in recent years. Let’s have a look at one of them.

Pay for Lux: Selling light – not Light Bulbs

In a new business model explored in a pilot project between Philips and the Amsterdam office of RAU Architects, focus shifted from selling light bulbs to providing the service light:

“Thomas Rau did not want to purchase an expensive lighting infrastructure that he would eventually need to replace and dispose of, but rather light as a service, and just the right amount to suit the building. RAU Architects worked with Philips to develop a system that could work within this new way of thinking.

By moving from a one-time sale to a ‘Pay per lux’ model in which Philips maintain ownership of the materials, Rau Architects benefit from maintenance and service, as well as the option to adapt or upgrade the setup, with the manufacturer able to recover the materials when necessary.”

Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation case study


Basically, Philips retains ownership of the material, and the customer pays for the light. This way, Philips is responsible for maintenance, upgrades, reuse and recycling, while the customers benefit from the product and cost savings.

Zero Waste Conference Keynote

We’re pleased to welcome as keynote speaker, Markus Laubscher, Program Manager of Circular Economy at Philips.
Markus oversees pilot projects on implementing circular economy within the different Philips businesses, tracks progress, drives learning and capacity building and manages external partnerships on the topic.

His main area of expertise is sustainable business and innovation strategy, built up over 10 years in corporate research, venturing and consultancy. Notably, he developed technology and business concepts for public health in resource-poor settings, sustainability metrics for the portfolio management of research projects and a framework to guide corporate sustainability vision.

Prior to joining Philips, Markus earned a PhD at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology by extending scientific understanding of light-tissue interactions. He holds a master in physics from the University Karlsruhe and the Polytechnic Institute Grenoble.

We’re excited to hear what he has to say about moving a massive multinational corporation to support the Circular Economy.

For more information on the Zero Waste Conference 2014 and to register, please visit our website at We look forward to seeing you at Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Conference 2014.

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  1. Pingback: Five Days to Zero Waste Conference 2014 | Zero Waste Conference Blog

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