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A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Today, let’s address a little about electronic recycling and also plastics recycling. Taken from a recent Resource Recycling newsletter, the first talks about something most of us don’t have to worry about — although I do have a couple of small battery charging units and some homeowners have large units on their roofs or in their yards but many cities and electric companies may.

Electric solar panels do need replacing at times, so what do you do with the old ones?

I found at least one state is looking at the problem.

“Legislation in Arizona would establish recycling requirements for end-of-life solar panels, requiring manufacturers to create a recycling program or face a per-panel fee at point-of-sale,” the article said.

A bill introduced there last month would put a landfill ban on solar panels and electric vehicle batteries. It would also require them to be recycled at approved processing sites.

The bill would also include a $5 per panel fee on the seller or leaser of the products, unless the manufacturer of the panel has established a recycling program that accepts and processes the panels.

This bill would not only cover solar panels in commercial and industrial use, but also those used by residential owners.

If passed, the fee collected would be used to pay the recycling facilities that process solar panels not covered by a manufacturer’s recycling program.

As more and more of these panels are being used — even mandated in some areas — little has been published on what to do with the old ones when they needed replacing. As most users know, these panels generally include glass, plastic, silicon, aluminum, copper and other metals — all items that can be recycled.

Let’s hope this bill is successful and other states follow their lead. However, as might be expected, some solar manufactures are opposing the bill.

Now switching to the recycling of plastics, an item concerning a plant closer to home. I found Closed Loop Partners will invest $2 million in a Houston chemical recycling company that processes PET residue generated by mechanical recycling operations.

This Houston company is involved in processing material that is normally not used in the mechanical recycling process. It makes this plastic into a “liquid intermediary that becomes useful feedstock for a number of different applications.”

Closed Loop Partners, a New York-based investment firm, focuses on financing efforts in certain companies to help their materials recovery endeavors. In this case, it will finance the Houston recycling company’s move into a recently acquired facility, plus will help fund some of the needed equipment.

The new Houston plant will double capacity immediately, enabling them to increase processing to almost 100 million pounds of material annually within 2 years. The plant had been at max capacity for the past 5 years. This expansion will help meet the expected increased demand for post-consumer PET material. I always enjoy reading about Texas efforts and accomplishments.

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Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432.

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666