Solar Industry Launches Wider Commitment to Environmental, Social Responsibility

The solar industry released a document that promotes  implementation of environmental and social responsibility standards throughout the industry, through its trade association, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

SEIA is urging companies throughout the solar supply chain to voluntarily adopt The Solar Industry Commitment to Environmental and Social Responsibility. It covers company and supplier requirements in the areas of labor, ethics, health and safety, environmental responsibility, human rights, and management systems.

Founding companies include Dow Solar, SunPower, Suntech, Trina Solar, and Yingli Solar.

The group based the language on the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition’s Code of Conduct and added specific provisions that relate to solar. 

"The Solar Commitment received unanimous support from SEIA’s Board of Directors to promote the industry’s continued environmental and social responsibility," says Julie Blunden, Chair of SEIA’s Environment, Health and Safety Committee, Vice Chair of SEIA’s board and SVP at SunPower. "We applaud the founding participant companies, including my own, that have already endorsed the Solar Commitment and are actively working to develop a governance model and accountability mechanisms."

SunPower notably produced the first Sustainability Report in the solar industry last year, joining 80% of the world’s largest company who annually disclose environmental, social, and corporate governance data.

Smaller companies, however, lag considerably in such reporting, and most solar firms are small to medium-size companies. Perhaps, because solar is considered a "clean" industry, companies don’t feel the necessity produce such a report.

The electricity from solar is clean, but the processes and some materials needed to produce it, aren’t. Last year, protests followed when Jinko Solar dumped hazardous waste into a river. And solar manufacturing is quite water intensive.

Here’s the section on Energy & the Environment

Participants should actively work to reduce the consumption of natural resources including raw materials, water, and energy taking into consideration the entire product life-cycle from raw material sourcing through end-of-life.

Scrap materials and end of life products should be reused or recycled through public or private programs. Key environmental impacts of manufacturing processes, product technology or key business operations should be identified and appropriate controls should be used to minimize these impacts including tracking water use, energy use, and related greenhouse gas emissions, while maximizing energy efficiency throughout business operations. Participants should make available to relevant stakeholders information on all of these processes and activities.

How It Works

In 2010, SEIA created an Environment, Health & Safety  Committee, comprised of over 40 industry representatives from almost every part of the global solar value chain, including both U.S. and foreign-based companies and organizations. The  Committee addresses a wide range of topics, including PV recycling, installer safety, fire safety, building codes, and product standards.

SEIA is now in the process of establishing an independent Advisory Group who will work with SEIA’s EHS Committee and Founding Participants to develop accountability mechanisms and governance structures designed to support transparency among participants and guide implementation of the Solar Commitment.

Here’s the Solar Industry Commitment to Environmental and Social Responsibility:

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Comments on “Solar Industry Launches Wider Commitment to Environmental, Social Responsibility”

  1. Mustafa

    HVAC Tech.: You might want to check with your local community collgee. Some offer evening courses in the applied sciences. I am sure that there are on line courses,but alas, I know nothing about computers. These are my first efforts. There may be that some manufacturer would have schools sponsored by them he could get into. (Like carrier did with puron).


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