SunPower Solar Panel Manufacturing Site Becomes First Landfill-Free Verified Facility in Mexico

SunPower Zero Landfill

The same SunPower facility in Mexicali, Mexico, that produces Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Silver solar panels has earned Landfill-Free Verification from NSF Sustainability, a division of the global nonprofit public health organization NSF International. With this recognition, SunPower  demonstrated that 99 percent of the waste generated from the company’s operations in Mexicali is diverted from landfills. The facility is also the first of any industry in Mexico to be third-party verified as landfill-free.  

“With Landfill-Free Verification and Cradle-to-Cradle Certified™ Silver solar panel production, our Mexicali site is a sustainability model for SunPower manufacturing facilities worldwide,” said Marty Neese, SunPower COO. “As an industry leader providing customers with reliable, high efficiency solar energy solutions, it is SunPower’s responsibility to operate with minimal impact to the environment. This is why we innovate relentlessly to create clean solar products and develop more sustainable manufacturing practices.”

NSF Sustainability is a trusted independent organization that verifies landfill-free programs for companies around the world. To earn verification, organizations must demonstrate that no more than 1 percent of waste generated at a single site goes to the landfill. Additional criteria include documentation and implementation of waste sorting and management processes, active employee training programs, and routine audits to ensure compliance.

SunPower Waste Hierarchy

“Waste hierarchy”
Credit: Drstuey, Stannered – File:Waste-hierarchy.png. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –

“Diverting waste from landfills is a significant environmental issue and achieving Landfill-Free Verification from NSF International is a huge accomplishment for a company in any industry,” said Jenny Oorbeck, General Manager of NSF International’s Sustainability Division. “We congratulate SunPower for going above and beyond to ensure its Mexicali site is more sustainable in its operations.”

Prior to earning Landfill-Free Verification, SunPower partnered with Northstar Recycling to identify zero-waste-to-landfill improvement opportunities and implement solutions at the facility in Mexicali. Through initiatives developed with Northstar Recycling and SunPower employees, nearly all waste generated onsite is now reused, recycled, or repurposed.

For example, a closed-loop composting system converts 200 pounds of food scraps daily into compost in less than 15 hours and the resulting nutrient-rich soil will help give life to an employee community garden inside a solar-powered greenhouse. Other sustainable innovations include a vertical outdoor garden hydrated with greywater from carport solar panel washing, as well as functional notepads made from interleaf paper that separates and protects solar cells during shipping. Going forward, SunPower will continue to track progress and explore even more sustainable waste-management practices in preparation for NSF Sustainability’s annual reassessment audits.

This year, Green Builder magazine, a residential building industry publication focused on green building and sustainable development, named SunPower a 2015 Eco-Leader for the company’s sustainability leadership efforts around responsible manufacturing, landfill-free operations and light-on-land approach.

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.

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