Trash talk: EPA warns of looming cleantech waste surge

♻️ RECYCLING: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report detailing challenges America will face in the near future with safely recycling and disposing of renewable energy technologies that reach the end of their usable life. This echoes increasing calls from the likes of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who released a series of posts this past fall on recycling clean energy technology.

  • The EPA’s report says the growing use of cleantech creates new kinds and volumes of waste materials, and without proper management, the technologies — including solar panels, electric vehicle batteries, and wind turbines — will create environmental and economic burdens. Negative consequences include wasting valuable, scarce resources and potentially creating new hazardous material Superfund sites, the EPA says.
  • The report details work at the ReCell Center, located at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, to advance lithium-ion battery recycling. Public and private Midwestern entities are contributing to research on other end-of-life solutions for cleantech materials, including Iowa utility MidAmerican Energy providing decommissioned wind turbine blades for recycling research purposes and Case Western Reserve University in Ohio studying how to recycle plastic blades. Just outside the Midwest, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory also is working to create wind turbine blades out of recyclable material.
  • The report states that the use of renewable energy technologies is increasing and suggests the pace of end-of-life cleantech solutions needs to accelerate to keep up with the waste volume.

🔋 BATTERIES: Four Ohio State University students launched a startup company, Electrion, to develop a cleaner portable power source to replace gas generators. The entrepreneurs are getting interest from investors for the rechargeable battery packs, delivery service via electric cargo bikes, and logistics platform to coordinate battery distribution and track the status. They are building prototypes and devising ways to expand the “sustainable energy on demand” model.


  • Madison, Wisconsin, adopted a new ordinance requiring that developers install electric vehicle charging infrastructure in most new multifamily residence parking lots and some commercial lots. “If we are serious about achieving our climate goals in Madison, we have to transition to clean technology,” said Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway in a statement.
  • University of Michigan researchers are collaborating on a project that uses connected and automated technologies to reduce the Toyota Prius Prime’s fuel consumption by 20% without changing the powertrain or compromising emissions, safety, or drivability, reports Design World.

🤝 ACQUISITION: Seattle-based electric boat motor manufacturer Pure Watercraft acquired Mayer, Minnesota-based electric pontoon manufacturer ELUX Marine. The move gives Pure Watercraft a presence in the Upper Midwest, which reportedly is the largest per capita boating market.

💰 FUNDING: The Clean Energy Trust posted a guide for cleantech startups preparing to raise Series A funding. Key considerations include fully understanding what problem the startup aims to solve and personalizing the pitch. “Cleantech startups often struggle to raise Series A financing, so we worked with our friends at Locke Lord to come up with some tips to help prepare for the fundraising process,” Clean Energy Trust Managing Director Paul Seidler told Centered. “Preparation includes personalizing your pitch to articulate your company’s unique narrative, identifying targeted investors, and assembling and organizing the necessary legal documentation investors will require during the diligence process.”


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