Webinar: Sustainable Issues and Opportunities for Handling End-of-Life PV Modules

Register today for an upcoming free webinar organized by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center on end-of-life management of photovoltaic (PV) modules.

Date, Time & Registration Link

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, from 9:30 AM-11:00 AM CDT. Register at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/9214142045968489996.

Summary

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar power is the fastest-growing energy source in the U.S. and this growth will continue to rise. At the moment, only a few states have adopted solar PV end-of-life handling policy requirements. Therefore, a lot of modules that have reached their end-of-life will end up in landfills. Early failures, catastrophic events, and system upgrades will compound waste management issues of end-of-life PV modules. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency finds a substantial increase in solar modules reaching their end-of-life in the 2020s and 2030s, with forecasts of 60 to 78 million cumulative tons of modules entering the waste streams globally by 2050.

Research by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) finds the design life of a PV module to be around 30 years. This does not account for early-loss failures which can occur through a range of factors including damages during the manufacturing process and transit, improper handling, and exposure to severe weather events. IRENA reports that most PV module waste today is due to early-loss scenarios and is estimated to contribute to more than 80% of the recycling market. The dramatic decline in PV equipment costs has also given system owners’ opportunities to reevaluate the overall efficiency of systems, and many utility-scale and commercial and industrial plant owners are now “repowering” systems across the U.S. This is done by replacing modules to increase the system’s overall performance and power ratings and extending the life of the system. NREL research has found that these lifetime estimations can happen as early as 10 years after the initial installation.

Governments and states are now beginning to see the overall value in end-of-life PV requirements for a circular economy. In 2012 the European Union’s Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment established PV module disposal and recycling guidelines. Extended-producer-responsibility principles are is at its core, holding the producers responsible for the recycling and treatment of end-of-life PV modules. Currently, there are no national U.S. requirements for end-of-life PV modules, however, ideas for national and state recycling programs have been evaluated.  This seminar will include a panel discussion on barriers, policies, and sustainable opportunities for end-of-life PV modules.

Panelists

  • Amanda Cotton is the e-waste coordinator for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Cotton has been involved with toxicity reduction, pollution prevention and product stewardship at the agency for 12 years.
  • Nancy Gillis is the CEO of the Green Electronics Council (GEC), a mission-driven non-profit that seeks to achieve a world of only sustainable ICT. GEC manages EPEAT, the leading global ecolabel for ICT and other electronic products.  Before joining GEC, Nancy served as the Global Lead for Resilient and Responsible Supply Chains at Ernst & Young (EY).  Prior to that, she served in the US Federal Government as the Director of the Federal Supply Chain Office at the General Services Administration (GSA), the public procurement agency for the US government.  At GSA, Nancy was responsible for the inclusion of sustainability criteria in approximately $45B of procurements.   Nancy received her graduate degree in Information Technology from Georgetown University.
  • Garvin Heath is a Senior Scientist and leader of sustainability analysis at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. For the last 8 years he has led the International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power Systems Task 12 (Sustainability) where the US has gained valuable insight and lessons from countries with more experience in recycling and the circular economy of PV modules. He led development of a PV recycling technology R&D Roadmap for the US Department of Energy, helped develop a new voluntary Sustainability Leadership Standard for PV Module manufacturing (including end of life management), and has been advising several U.S. states considering voluntary and regulatory responses to PV end of life management challenges.

Upcoming EPA Webinar on Safe Packaging and Transport of Lithium Batteries

On Thursday, January 23, 2020, the US EPA Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Web Academy will present Safe Packaging and Transportation of Lithium Batteries for Recycling: What You Need to Know. The speaker will be Jordan Rivera of the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

From the SMM web pages:

Lithium batteries are key to our modern connected world, from our cellphones and computers to our cars (and not just electric cars) and have an increasing role in storing electricity for the electric grid. But, used lithium batteries aren’t exactly like the used alkaline or lead acid batteries that many are used to working with. Because of the battery’s level of charge and the materials that are inside of it, special preparation is needed when shipping these batteries to a refurbisher or recycler. On this webinar participants will learn how to prevent, reduce or eliminate risks of fire or explosions from the improper packaging, marking, labeling, or recycling of lithium batteries.

This SMM webinar will be hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and led by a subject matter expert from the Hazardous Materials Safety Assistance Team under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The webinar will focus on the safe transportation of lithium batteries for recycling and the applicable regulations that must be followed by battery shippers. It is designed for individuals in the battery recycling industry who need a working knowledge of the regulations, or who provide training to their employees on the applicable regulations. They will include an overview on the latest regulatory requirements on proper lithium battery packaging, marking, and labeling and as well as a basic understanding of how to apply the Hazardous Materials Regulations.”

Register for this webinar at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/13389156744558092. See https://www.epa.gov/smm/sustainable-materials-management-smm-web-academy-webinar-safe-packaging-and-transportation for additional information. Note the SMM Web Academy typically posts slides and a webinar recording after the presentation has occurred.

iFixit Begins Regular Right to Repair Podcast With Live YouTube Event

On January 31, 2019, iFixit hosted a live event on its YouTube channel, providing an overview of the Right to Repair movement including input from movement leaders Nathan Proctor, Gay Gordon-Byrne, and Jessa Jones.  You can watch the recorded livestream at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-zU8f_olwU&feature=youtu.be, or download it from https://www.buzzsprout.com/252243/939881 or from iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-right-to-repair-podcast/id1451251273.

According to the iFixit blog, “The coalition at Repair.org has been hard at work getting 15 states to introduce Right to Repair bills so far this year. But just like any grassroots movement, they need as much support as they can get—which is why we started a podcast to help spread the word! Every other week, we’ll be gathering special guests to update you on the latest Right to Repair news. You’ll hear stories about the fixers fighting for fair repair legislation, learn how to start a coalition in your state, and get tips for talking to your state representatives…Future episodes will focus on specific Right to Repair issues, so leave a note in the comments telling us what topics and guests you’d like us to feature!

The next broadcast is scheduled for Thursday, February 14th at 11 AM PST (1 PM CST) on the iFixit YouTube Channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/iFixitYourself. If you participate in the live event, you’ll get the chance to ask the presenters your questions about repair and associated legislation. Again, the video will be recorded for later viewing on YouTube and the audio will be shared on their social accounts the following day.

Illinois is one of the states that has previously introduced Right to Repair bills. For more information on the Right to Repair movement, see the Repair Association’s web site, https://repair.org/, and also check out posts tagged “Right to Repair” on the Illini Gadget Garage blog: http://illini-gadget-garage.istc.illinois.edu/tag/right-to-repair/.

Right to Repair advocacy image
Right to Repair advocacy image from Repair.org

Live Demo of New Mobile Phone Environmental Benefits Calculator 9/19/18

The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, most commonly simply called EPEAT, is a product registry to help purchasers identify electronic devices with positive environmental attributes. Manufacturers and retailers can use the registry to highlight product offerings which meet criteria addressing materials selection, design for product longevity, reuse and recycling, energy conservation, end-of-life management and corporate performance. EPEAT was developed with a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is managed by the Green Electronics Council (GEC) .

The EPEAT registry has long included computers (including laptops and tablets) and displays, imaging equipment (e.g. printers, copiers, fax machines, scanners, multifunction devices, etc.), and televisions. Mobile phones were recently added, and servers are the latest product category addition.

The GEC is developing a new Environmental Benefits Calculator that measures the environmental and cost benefits of purchasing sustainable EPEAT-registered products. The new calculator will launch for the mobile phone category in September. The calculator will expand to include servers and the updated Computer and Display category by the end of the year.

Purchasers are invited to join GEC’s Patty Dillon, Acting Director of EPEAT Category Development, on September 19th for a live demonstration of the Mobile Phone Environmental Benefits Calculator. Learn how to use the calculator to quantify the sustainability benefits of purchasing EPEAT-registered IT products, as well as how to estimate savings resulting from extended use and recycling of those devices.

The free live demo will take place Wednesday, Sep 19, 2018 from 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM CDT. Register at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/3613264982148557571.

 

Webinar, 7/27/17–What the Tech? Learn Basic Electronic Component Function with the Illini Gadget Garage

Computers and smartphones are really complex machines, right? Well, if you know a little bit about them, they’re not all that intimidating. The Illini Gadget Garage (IGG) will break it down for you in their “What the Tech?” series of workshops, providing a basic walk through of different computer components and what they do.

This first presentation, via webinar, focuses on the basic components found in computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices and their functions in making a computer operate properly. Components to be covered include, but are not limited to: processors, hard drives, memory cards, and cooling elements. The Illini Gadget Garage’s Amanda Elzbieciak will guide you through the basics. The presentation will take place on Thursday, July 27 from 10-10:45 AM. (Note that the IGG campus workshop will be closed from 10-11 that day as a result.) Register online at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/331629583625614595

This webinar presentation is free, but donations are appreciated to support future Illini Gadget Garage programming. The IGG is a repair center that helps consumers with “do-it-together” troubleshooting and repair of minor damage and performance issues of electronics and small appliances which promotes repair as a means to keep products in service and out of the waste stream. It is coordinated by ISTC as part of sustainable electronics and zero waste efforts, in collaboration with the iSchool and School of Art + Design. In order to pay hourly staff to help the public and train and oversee volunteers, as well as to pay for expenses like utilities, consumables, etc., IGG relies on the generosity of sponsors like you or your organization! See http://wp.istc.illinois.edu/ilgadgetgarage/donate/donation-form/

A future presentation will offer hands-on opportunities to dismantle devices at our campus workshop. If you have suggestions for topics for future presentations, send them via email to illinigadgetgarage@gmail.com.

a variety of electronic components laid out on a table next to a ruler for scale

2017 iNEMI Roadmap Rollout Webinars

The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) regularly produces industry roadmaps. According to the iNEMI web site, “Each edition is a global collaborative effort that involves many individuals who are leading experts in their respective fields and represent many perspectives on the electronics manufacturing supply chain.  Our roadmap has become recognized as an important tool for defining the “state of the art” in the electronics industry as well as identifying emerging and disruptive technologies. It also includes keys to developing future iNEMI projects and setting industry R&D priorities over the next 10 years.”

The latest edition of the iNEMI roadmap will go on sale this month. In preparation, iNEMI is previewing highlights from select chapters in the following two webinars:

  • Asia (April 6): Internet of Things (IoT) and Packaging & Components Substrates chapters
  • North America/Europe (April 7): IoT and Sustainable Electronics chapters

For details including session overviews, times, and online registration, see the iNEMI web page for these rollout webinars.

The purpose of these webinars is to introduce the 2017 iNEMI Roadmap and identify key issues and needs, collect feedback during the Q & A session for ongoing gap analysis purposes, recruit participation in in the development of the iNEMI Technical Plan, and recruit participation in the next roadmap development cycle. (See http://community.inemi.org/content.asp?contentid=56 for information on the 2015 Technical Plan.)

iNEMI logo

Still Time to Apply for EPEAT Purchaser Awards

The February 15 deadline for applying for an EPEAT purchaser award is fast approaching. The EPEAT product registry is a useful tool to identify more sustainable electronic product options in the categories of PCs and Displays (including tablets), Imaging Equipment (which includes printers, copiers, scanners and multifunction devices) and Televisions.

Originally funded by the US EPA, EPEAT is a searchable database of electronics products in certain categories, which is administered currently by the Green Electronics Council. EPEAT criteria are developed collaboratively by a range of stakeholders, including manufacturers, environmental groups, academia, trade associations, government agencies, and recycling entities. The EPEAT product criteria cover much more than just energy efficiency–they include issues of material selection and product design, end-of-life management considerations, and corporate performance, among others. To learn more, read my previous post “How to Use the EPEAT Registry to Purchase Greener Electronics–Archived Webinar.” You may also wish to register for the February 9 webinar, “Using the EPEAT Registry to Purchase Environmentally Preferable Electronics.

All organizations that use EPEAT in their purchasing selections are eligible for the EPEAT purchaser awards. See the award web page for full requirements and submission details. Winners will be announced at a March 13th ceremony, sponsored by ITI, in Arlington, VA.  EPEAT Purchaser Award winners will receive:

  • Public recognition for their dedication to environmentally preferable purchasing and greener electronics
  • A calculation of environmental benefits
  • Case study participation opportunities

Questions about the awards program can be addressed to Andrea Desimone of the Green Electronics Council.

EPEAT logo

 

Upcoming Webinar on CRT Recycling, Management Issues

US EPA Region 3, the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC), and the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse (ERCC) are sponsoring a webinar on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at 9:00  to 11:00 AM CDT, entitled ” CRTs: What Can Be Done?” 

CRTs, or cathode ray tubes, are found in older TVs and computer monitors. CRTs contain leaded glass, making discarded CRTs a hazardous waste (lead is a neurotoxin). In the past, the leaded glass could be reused in the production of new CRT monitors, but that technology has been replaced by flat screens, and thus, there is no longer a demand for the problematic components of these monitors. Processing them has become costly rather than profitable for recyclers, and  new uses for the leaded glass and new means of recycling have been considered and debated in recent years.

This webinar will focus on recycling possibilities, the issues companies face, and the potential for various technologies to address the CRT problem. Four knowledgeable panelists will share their expertise and opinions, followed by a short question and answer session.

Presenters include:

  • JJ Santos, Camacho Recycling, Spain
  • Rich Hipp, Kuusakoski, USA
  • Tom Bolon, Novotec, Ohio
  • Simon Greer, NuLife Glass, New York

See https://epawebconferencing-events.acms.com/content/connect/c1/7/en/events/event/shared/default_template/speaker_info.html?sco-id=100343474 for additional information on the presenters. Registration is available at https://epawebconferencing-events.acms.com/content/connect/c1/7/en/events/event/shared/default_template/event_registration.html?sco-id=100343474.

Archived Webinar: How Sustainable is Information Technology?

In case you missed it, the recording of the ISTC Sustainability Seminar, “How Sustainable is Information Technology? Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities” is now available online, along with a PDF of the presentation slides. This webinar was presented by Eric Masanet, Morris E. Fine Junior Professor in Materials and Manufacturing and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Chemical and Biological Engineering, at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Northwestern University.

Abstract: The growing numbers of information technology (IT) devices–and the environmental impacts associated with their manufacture, use, and disposal–are topics that have received much attention in both the media and research communities. While the environmental footprint of IT devices is indeed significant, each new device generation typically brings substantial operational energy efficiency improvements. Furthermore, a singular focus on their direct impacts ignores the indirect environmental benefits that IT devices might provide by improving societal energy and resource efficiencies. A growing body of research suggests that such benefits might be substantial across the economy through such applications as replacing physical goods with digital services, building controls for energy efficiency, and real-time logistics optimization. This presentation will review the life-cycle impacts of IT systems, discuss trends in these impacts as a function of technology progress and growing consumption over time, and highlight the challenges and opportunities associated with managing and reducing the environmental impacts of IT systems moving forward.

If you’re interested in receiving email reminders about upcoming ISTC seminars, email Elizabeth Meschewski. Additional webinar recordings are available on the ISTC web site.

webinararchive

ISTC Receives Gold Level Recognition from the State Electronics Challenge

SEIgold The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), the parent organization for the Sustainable Electronics Initative (SEI), has received Gold Level recognition from the State Electronics Challenge for activities in 2014. The State Electronics Challenge (SEC) is a free, voluntary program for non-federal public sector organizations (e.g. schools, local governments, universities, libraries, etc.) and non-profit organizations, which encourages responsible management of office equipment via more sustainable purchasing, reducing the impacts of devices during use, and managing obsolete electronics in an environmentally safe way. Participants, or “partners” as they’re referred to in the program, can elect to focus efforts on one or more life cycle phases: purchasing, use, and end-of-life management. Guidance on addressing impacts in these life cycle phases is provided via the SEC web site, partners-only webinars, and direct assistance from SEC staff members. Partners are not required to perform any given activity, but if they wish to apply to the optional recognition program, there is a checklist of activities that must be completed to achieve different recognition levels.

Partners are eligible for recognition for their accomplishments as follows:

  • Gold recognition: completed General Requirements & all activities in 3 lifecycle phases
  • Silver recognition: completed General Requirements & completed all activities in 2 lifecycle phases
  • Bronze recognition: completed General Requirements & all activities in 1 lifecycle phase

ISTC was in fact the first organization in IL to become a SEC partner, back in 2011, but 2014 was the first year for which it sought recognition for its activities, after having developed a written policy for purchase, use, and disposal of its IT equipment as part of its internal sustainability committee’s efforts. Of SEC’s 150 current partners, only nine are from Illinois, and, of those, just two earned recognition at any level in 2014. See the complete list of 2014 Partner Award recipients on the SEC web site. As you can see from the picture included in this post, the recognition plaque is appropriately made out of recycled circuit boards.

One of the benefits of being an SEC partner is the receipt of an “environmental sustainability report” for the year, with a summary of the environmental benefits of your organization’s efforts, in easy to understand equivalencies. For example, in ISTC’s 2014 report, we can see that the reduction in energy use resulting from our purchasing, use, and reuse and recycling efforts was equivalent to the amount of electricity to power 25 homes/year. To see an example of the report partners receive, see ISTC’s full Environmental Sustainability Report from SEC for calendar year 2014.

If you wish to learn more about the State Electronics Challenge, don’t miss the upcoming free SEC webinar, “Introduction to the State Electronics Challenge” Tuesday, May 19, 2015 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM CDT. You can register for the webinar online at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4400751674919799810.