Each November, America Recycles Day promotes and celebrates recycling in the United States. According to Keep America Beautiful, the day is meant to educate people about where and how to properly recycle, as well as encourage them to be mindful of what they consume.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says recycling:
- Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators.
- Conserves natural resources such as timber, water and minerals.
- Prevents pollution by reducing the need to mine raw materials.
- Saves energy.
- Supports American manufacturing and conserves valuable resources.
- Creates new jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the United States.
Businesses can also take steps to reduce waste. For example, many utility companies, yours included, have programs to help customers recycle large home appliances.
Utility companies also submit decommissioning plans to regulators to describe how they plan to recycle elements of generation facilities, including wind and solar projects.
For solar projects, piles and racking are generally made of aluminum or galvanized steel and thus are easy to recycle or sell as scrap. The panels themselves will still produce at least 80% efficient after 25 or 30 years. Utilities can decide to reuse or sell the panels to interested parties to recoup some of the costs of the project, or the panels themselves can be recycled.
Similarly with wind projects, the turbines can be recycled at the end of their lives. Approximately 85 to 95% of the materials are easily recycled, according to Orsted, the world’s largest offshore wind developer. The most difficult component of the wind project to recycle is the turbine blade. It’s precisely why future uses for turbine blades are a focus for many companies and why we’ve begun to see businesses that use technology to find sustainable solutions. For instance, our subsidiary REGEN Fiber recycles turbine blades into chopped glass fibers for use in asphalt, construction and composite product industries.
We anticipate future advancements will provide additional options to repurpose, resell and recycle solar and wind equipment. That's something to look forward to as we celebrate America Recycles Day.