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Trends in Waste for Renewables from the Resource Recovery Conference 2023


Trends in Waste for Renewables from the Resource Recovery Conference 2023

At Green Clean Solar, we're committed to leading the renewable energy sector with the best practices and innovations in waste management. Our team recently participated in the Resource Recovery and Recycle Conference 2023 in Orlando is a testament to our dedication. Representing our esteemed company, we delved deep into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the renewable sector, especially when it comes to recycling solar panels, batteries, cardboard, wood pallets, plastic, and scrap metal.


Unmasking "Wishcycling" in Renewables

The term "wishcycling" might sound whimsical, but its implications for the solar industry are anything but. It refers to the well-intentioned but misguided practice of tossing materials into recycling bins with the hope that they'll be recycled. At the conference, it became evident that many installers and EPCs are unintentionally contributing to this issue - and really, they're not to blame, waste isn't their specialty, and they're taking the word of haulers promising to recycle, but who often own landfills and make more money landfilling materials intended for recycling.


Imagine the scenario: solar site managers, in an effort to be environmentally responsible, order multiple bins to segregate waste. However, without proper oversight and accountability, these efforts can be in vain. Waste haulers, some of whom have vested interests in landfills, often find it more profitable to dump everything, bypassing the recycling process altogether - hence the wishcycling in renewables.


It's a stark reminder that good intentions aren't enough. At Green Clean Solar, we go beyond wishful thinking. We demand tangible results, proof, and receipts from haulers and recyclers. Our rigorous approach ensures that recycling isn't just a checkbox activity but a verifiable process backed by data that can be honestly reported in Corporate Sustainability Reports.


Beyond Solar: The Broader Renewable Landscape

While solar energy wasn't a large focus at the conference, conversations about EOL for renewable energy was a topic of conversation. One challenge posed by wind blades is that their colossal structure, primarily made of fiberglass, is becoming a recycling problem.


Previously, disposing of wind blades was straightforward—they were discarded in landfills. However, as the number of wind farms has grown, so has the volume of discarded blades. Their sheer size now means that some landfills require advance notice and detailed information before accepting them. This shift is a clear indication that the renewable sector must rethink its recycling strategies.


Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) highlights from Resource Recovery Conference 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of renewable energy, there's a new buzzword that's gaining traction: Extended Producer Responsibility, or EPR. At its core, EPR is a policy approach that places the onus of managing the end-of-life (EOL) of products squarely on the shoulders of manufacturers. But it's not just about end-of-life management; it's also about the entire lifecycle of a product, from design to disposal.


Recent legislative movements in the United States signal a significant shift towards this approach. Currently, four states have enacted EPR legislation, focusing primarily on packaging and EOL responsibilities. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Industry insiders, including us at Green Clean Solar, anticipate that over 20 states will soon adopt similar legislation. The implications are clear: manufacturers will no longer have the luxury of passing the buck. The responsibility of handling packaging waste and EOL will revert from end-users back to the creators of these products.


But why is this shift happening now? The answer lies in the growing environmental challenges we face. Landfills are overflowing, and the waste anticipated in many sectors is overwhelming. The traditional model of "produce, use, and dispose" is no longer sustainable. EPR seeks to address this by ensuring that manufacturers play a pivotal role in the waste management of their products.


For renewable energy equipment manufacturers, the writing is on the wall. The EPR wave will soon close in, making it imperative for them to rethink their production and disposal strategies. But it's not just about compliance; it's about leadership. Manufacturers have a golden opportunity to set industry benchmarks and lead by example.


So, what can manufacturers do? At Green Clean Solar, we believe in proactive adaptation. Here are some best practices that manufacturers can adopt:

  1. Rethink Packaging: Plastic has been the go-to packaging material for decades, but its environmental impact is undeniable. Manufacturers can explore alternative, sustainable packaging materials that are easier to recycle and have a lower carbon footprint.

  2. Eliminate Mixed-Use Materials: Using materials that are hard to separate, like wooden spools with metal inserts, complicates recycling. By designing products with recycling in mind, manufacturers can significantly reduce waste.

  3. Engage in Consumer Education: Manufacturers can play a pivotal role in educating consumers about the proper disposal and recycling of products. By providing clear instructions and resources, they can ensure that their products are disposed of responsibly.


EPR is not just another piece of legislation; it's a call to action. It challenges manufacturers to step up and take responsibility for the environmental impact of their products. At Green Clean Solar, we're excited about this new era of accountability and are committed to leading the charge in sustainable practices. We invite manufacturers to join us on this journey, turning challenges into opportunities and setting new standards for the renewable energy industry.


AI machines for construction waste

While much of the AI robotics have been dedicated to sorting at Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) by equipment from leaders in the industry like AMP Robotics and Prarie Robotics, some attention is beginning to happen with construction waste. Below is an example of this construction waste separation, and it lends itself to opportunities in renewable energy recovery, panel piece recovery, and more.




Leading with Knowledge and Action

Our commitment to the renewable sector goes beyond merely staying updated. At Green Clean Solar, we believe in proactive engagement. This means networking, gaining knowledge, and disseminating that knowledge for the greater good of the industry.


Our participation in conferences is just one facet of our broader strategy. We invest heavily in research, ensuring that we're at the forefront of emerging trends in waste management for renewable energy. Our relationships within the industry are built on trust and collaboration, allowing us to extend our recycling networks even in the most remote regions.


But why do we do all this? Because we recognize the immense responsibility of connecting solutions from two huge industries. Renewable energy promises a clean energy future. However, for this promise to be fully realized, every aspect, including recycling, must be optimized for full-scope circularity.


The Path Ahead

The Resource Recovery and Recycle Conference was an eye-opener in many ways. It highlighted the challenges we face and the education needed for EPCs, Utilities, and Legislators, but it also showcased the incredible strides the industry can begin making. As our team reflects on the event, we're filled with a sense of optimism and great purpose for placing optimal materials recovery solutions in the hands of renewable energy installers.


When it comes to waste management for renewables, it's important to lead the charge now; the renewable sector is poised for a future where sustainability is ingrained in every process, from energy generation to materials recovery and recycling. We're not just dreaming of a greener, cleaner future; we're actively building one large-scale renewable energy site at a time.


Interested to learn more from our time at the Recovery and Recycling Conference. Want to get a waste management quote for your site? Contact our team!

Tel: 770-229-7168 | Email: easyclean@greenclean-solar.com


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