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Philips finally drops ‘eco’ label from halogen lamps

When is 'eco' not eco? When new technologies outpace it. This US version of Philips' 'eco' halogen lamp offers a purported 28 per cent energy savings over conventional incandescent, which is at the high end of halogen efficiency. But these days, LEDs can offer 90 per cent savings. Bye-bye 'eco' halogen.

Lighting giant Philips has at long last decided to stop labeling its halogen lamps as “eco,” a move that acknowledges what the industry and increasingly the general public already know: halogen lamps are not energy efficient by today’s standards.

“I can indeed confirm that Philips is in the process of changing the name of the ‘EcoClassic’ Halogen range to ‘Halogen Classic’, a Philips spokesperson told Lux. The move applies to all countries including the US, where Philips sells a halogen line called  “EcoVantage.”

Halogen lamps are a type of incandescent that are marginally more efficient than conventional incandescent lamps, generally around 5-to-25 per cent.  

When they first came out – Philips launched its “EcoClassic Halogen” line in 2007 – the ‘eco’ tag distinguished halogens from other incandescents. 

But two other technologies – CFL and LED – were taking hold at far greater efficiencies. CFLs rapidly took off and now the even more efficient LED bulb has gone mainstream as prices have come down. And with LED energy consumption that is now often 90 per cent less than conventional incandescents, the ‘eco’ label on halogen has at best been confusing consumers, if not misleading them.

‘When the range was launched in 2007, it provided significant energy savings when compared to traditional bulbs,’ the spokesperson said. ‘However, the phasing out of incandescent lamps and the availability of more energy efficient LED lamps has led us to rename the range.’

The move marks a reversal of Philips’ position on the labeling. Early this year, after rival Osram dropped the ‘eco’ label, Philips remained resolute in keeping the term. At the time, it credited consumers with being able to decipher all the labeling, fine print and charts on packaging. that shed more insight onto whether a bulb truly is “eco.” 

‘Philips offers a range of energy efficient bulbs, each with its own characteristics,” it told Lux last February. “The product you are referring to saves a significant amount of energy compared to traditional bulbs, which are still in use. Our packaging contains information so that consumers can make an informed decision when purchasing a Philips light bulb. Especially the Energy Label, which allows consumers to easily compare one product to another and makes very clear what the energy consumption of the bulb is.’

The spokesperson did not say why Philips has now had a change of heart. Critics and campaigners welcomed the move

‘It’s good to see a U-turn on this issue,’ said Fred Bass, managing director of Neonlite, the brand owner of LED vendor Megaman. ‘As I said two years ago the clock is ticking for mains voltage halogens … and anyway it is clearly misleading to claim they are ‘eco’ products.’

The Philips spokesperson said the the new packaging will start in the first quarter of 2016. In addition, all new retail merchandising signage reflect the change. The company has already begun removing ‘eco’ online, she said.

This story updated  with US information after Philips confirmed it is dropping “eco” in the US too. Added Nov. 9th around 12:50 p.m. GMT.

Photo is from Philips Lighting via Jetson Green