Model institutional infrastructures for recycling of photovoltaic modules Page: 4 of 5
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operations of Consolidation Points perform any required
additional sorting and send bulk shipments to Inmetco.
2. Reverse retail. RBRC sends participating retailers a
recycling kit consisting of a point-of-sale display, plastic
Zip-loc bags, handling and safety instructions, and four
folded-up collection boxes that can hold 18 pounds of
nicads. The retailer sets up the collection boxes, and
when full, seals them with tape. The boxes come with
pre-paid UPS shipping label pre-addressed to Inmetco.
RBRC is seeking approval for the reverse retail program
in all states.
3. Commercial and institutional generators.
Manufacturers, police, fire and emergency service
operations, and other commercial and institutional
generators participate in the RBRC program by agreeing
to collect their discards and ship them, at their own
expense, to the nearest Consolidation Point. However,
RBRC then pays the costs for consolidating them into
larger shipments transporting to Inmetco, and for
recycling (about 40 cents per pound). The generators
and consolidation facilities exchange liability waivers
and mutual indemnification's.
4. Licensee rebates. Licensees pay for the right to
display the RBRC seal on their products. If these
manufacturers arrange and pay for collection and
shipment of batteries to Inmetco (not to consolidation
points), they receive a rebate of 17 cents per pound from
During our research we found some intriguing practices
were that belong in the table of options for further
consideration in designing the decommissioned
photovoltaic module recycling system, but which cannot be
identified with any one of the three paradigms discussed
Fluorescent Lights and Ballast Recycling Projects
The institutional infrastructure being developed to
recycle fluorescent lights and ballasts is worth studying as
an example of utilities playing a leading role in recycling,
working with institutional generators of these discards.
The utilities' experiences with recycling fluorescent lamps
suggests contractual and logistic options. Minnesota law
requires utilities to collect for recycling any fluorescent
lamps that are discarded in programs for energy
conservation and load management. Northern States
Power has incorporated this activity in its conservation
programs, including giving rate discounts and financing
assistance to customers. Minnesota businesses that want
to discard fluorescent lamps contact recyclers (there are
two in Minnesota) who transport them from the generator
to a recycling facility. Household fluorescent are
consolidated at city or county drop-off sites, and at some
retail hardware and appliance stores. Recycling
fluorescent lamps also may be eligible for some benefits
under EPA pollution prevention programs, such as its
Green Lights program.
Retail-Based Collection at Home Depots
In 1993, the Home Depot chain began experiments at
some outlets with a "do-it-yourself' Recycling Depot
program, in a joint venture with Mindis Recycling, a
division of Attwoods plc (the world's fourth-largest waste
management company). Homeowners and business
customers, such as plumbers and small contractors, bring
gutters, electrical wire, water heaters, screen doors,
plumbing parts, and other (mostly aluminum) metal scrap
to a drive-through facility on the Home Depot lot. They
are paid for the metal or can set up an account, and have
the option of assigning revenues to charity. The pilot
facility in Georgia was expected to recover 500
tons/month. Plans were being considered to add roofing
debris, paints, and other construction materials that are
difficult to recycle to the program. Sears has considered
setting up on-site recycling centers.
Collection by Trucks Delivering Commercial Glass
Photovoltaic module manufacturers or trade
associations might make arrangements for plate-glass
installers to pick up decommissioned photovoltaic module
discards from commercial installations, such as roofs of
shopping centers. For example, the next time new panes
are delivered to the shopping center, the dismounted
decommissioned modules could be carried back on the
empty truck. They could be delivered to a designated
collection site, turned over to a reverse logistics carrier, or
held at the plate-glass shop until sufficient
decommissioned modules have accumulated.
Cooperative marketing refers to organizations created
jointly by governmental authorities and various private
businesses, especially in rural or low-population-density
areas. Forty to sixty per cent of operating funds come
from service fees, the rest from grants, in-kind
contributions, and members' fees. Cooperative marketing
helps to make the multi-material collection of recyclables
more affordable. Three legal structures are employed;
nonprofit organization, inter-municipal agreement, and
resolution agreement. These vary in the formality of the
contractual commitment, powers to let contracts,
administrative flexibility, and availability to private
businesses, as opposed to business-government mixes.
Some have put-or-pay clauses to guarantee volume. A
structure of this sort might be tailored for decommissioned
photovoltaic module recycling, especially if its
infrastructure piggybacks onto that for the electronics
Recycling Hotline for Do-It-Yourselfers
Recycling infrastructure has grown rapidly for used
automotive oil filters; 110 recyclers belong to the Filter
Manufacturers' Council, many of whom are branches of
used oil recycling companies. The Council established a
Recycling Hotline (something the decommissioned
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Moscowitz, P.D.; Reaven, J. & Fthenakis, V.M. Model institutional infrastructures for recycling of photovoltaic modules, article, July 1, 1996; Upton, New York. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc672248/m1/4/: accessed February 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.