Although known for urging electronics companies to eliminate toxic chemicals in products and increase their end-of-life responsibility, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) has set its sight on the solar industry and the impact it has on the environment, reports Fast Company.
SVTC has released its first Solar Company scorecard that evaluates solar module makers on four issues: extended producer responsibility and takeback, supply-chain monitoring and green jobs, chemical use and life-cycle analysis, and disclosure (transparency).
The companies are ranked on a 0-100 point system: 85-100 means the company is a leader, 60 to 84 indicates the company has taken some big steps toward creating a clean solar PV industry but still needs to do more work, 1-59 shows the company hasn’t made any significant steps toward creating a clean solar PV industry (or did not completely fill out the survey).
Only Calyxo and SolarWorld received leadership scores, at 90 and 88, respectively.
Companies can also earn a “Gold Star,” which means it has a takeback program and policies against exporting waste and using prison labor to dismantle end-of-life panels. Four out of the 14 companies that responded to the survey earned this ranking. They are Calyxo, First Solar, SolarWorld and Solon.
The report also finds that eight companies would support mandatory extended producer responsibility; seven companies are analyzing their supply chains to document the social and environmental impacts associated with different production phases, and six companies have a policy setting minimum EHS and/or labor standards for panel recycling, although three additional companies said that they would commit to developing a policy.
Six companies report that their products contain lead, but all have plans to phase out lead. Two companies will begin phasing out lead in 2010. Three companies — Abound Solar, First Solar, and Calyxo — have products that contain cadmium compounds with no plans to phase them out.
No responding companies use mercury, hexavalent chromium (Cr6+), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), or polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE). No companies use any of the greenhouse gases listed in the survey, with one exception: Solar Cells Hellas uses nitrogen trifluoride (NF3). The company has no plans to phase it out.
Five companies said they conduct lifecycle analyses or risk assessments on new chemicals, including nanomaterials.
The report also reveals that six companies are setting aside money to finance the collection and disposal of end-of-life panels, and seven companies said they provide recycling services free of charge.