(From SEIA news releases) The solar industry has initiated a voluntary Solar Industry Commitment to Environmental and Social Responsibility (Solar Commitment). The Solar Commitment is the work of SEIA’s Environment, Health and Safety Committee and is based on the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition’s Code of Conduct, with the addition of solar-specific provisions. It’s designed to evolve as the industry grows.
Founding Participants of the Solar Commitment include Dow Solar, SunEdison, SunPower, Suntech, Trina Solar, and Yingli Solar.
The groundwork for the Solar Commitment began in 2010, with the creation of the SEIA Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) Committee, comprised of more than 40 industry representatives from almost every part of the global solar value chain, including both U.S. and foreign-based companies and organizations. The EHS Committee addresses a wide range of topics, including PV recycling, installer safety, fire safety, building codes, and product standards.
In a related development, a new report from As You Sow, a nonprofit promoting environmental and social corporate responsibility, finds that the global solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing industry is setting best practices for sustainable growth.
The report, titled “Clean & Green: Best Practices in Photovoltaics,” is based on a survey of more than 100 solar PV manufacturers. It found that “many PV manufacturers beat standards set for emissions, are reducing water use and reusing water on their own initiatives, and are participating in voluntary international programs related to worker safety.” Additionally, several respondents indicated they are shifting production practices to use safer materials, reduce waste and use renewable energy for energy-intensive processes.
“This report confirms that solar PV manufacturers take their responsibility as members of our communities seriously,” said John Smirnow, Vice President of Trade and Competitiveness for SEIA. “SEIA will continue to work with companies throughout the solar supply-chain to establish standards that allow companies to compete in an environmentally and socially responsible way.”
The report is the first in As You Sow’s Cleantech Initiative, which operates to ensure sustainability within renewable energy technologies, and highlights companies who implement sustainable manufacturing, green chemistry, and transparency in sourcing, procurement, and governance. The Cleantech Initiative was built upon As You Sow’s prior work in electronics manufacturing and energy industries, and will be continued with additional research into other renewable energy technologies, such as wind energy.
“Solar is the cleanest, safest source of energy and the solar industry is committed to ensuring social and environmental responsibility for our supply chain,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “The release of SEIA’s Solar Commitment marks an important, proactive step toward a sustainable future for solar.”