More Than 25 Percent of Solar Companies Hide Environmental Information from Public

San Francisco, CA –  The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition’s (SVTC) today released the 2013 Solar Scorecard, which revealed that most of the solar industry’s environmental practices remain hidden from the public.

The SVTC Solar Scorecard ranks manufacturers of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules according to a range of environmental, sustainability and social justice factors. In its fourth year of requesting environmental information from solar companies, SVTC is concerned: only ten companies representing 34.6 percent of the PV module market share responded to the 2013 SVTC survey and more than 25 percent of the top 40 solar companies fail to make almost any environmental information publically available on their websites.

Key findings from SVTC’s research are:

  • Three of the top 40 PV manufacturers (REC, SolarWorld, Yingli) share with the public extensive chemical emissions disclosure and reporting.
  • Twelve of the top 40 PV manufacturers post annual hazardous chemical reduction targets on their websites or in sustainability reports.
  • The number of companies with fully funded Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes in the PV industry dropped from one to zero. First Solar, the only major company with a fully-funded EPR program for the last three years, has eliminated its EPR program in most of its US-based sales.
  • Trina Solar (77), Yingli (75), and SunPower (69), earned overall top scores for 2013. SolarWorld and REC earned the highest scores for sharing information about their emissions with the public.

“Just because a solar company is in the general industry of renewable energy and sustainability doesn’t mean it’s actually practicing those same goals.  We’re finding that most companies are riding the coat tails of a small group of environmental leaders,” said Sheila Davis, executive director, SVTC. “It’s alarming how many solar companies fail to post environmental data on their website and also ignore SVTC’s request for information. Hiding this information from the public puts the entire industry’s “green” reputation at risk.”

This year, SVTC augmented its research methodology for the Solar Scorecard to include prior survey responses and additional sources, such as interviews, news stories, and publicly available data and information.  SVTC scored 40 companies representing approximately 82.8 percent of the PV industry market share. SVTC estimates that the 14 percent drop in its survey response is due to bankruptcy of former participants and the declining market shares of major PV producers. However, more investors are expecting that standard business practices now include sharing environmental information.

“Weak environmental and social reporting reflects poorly on a company’s risk management,” said Steven Heim, a managing director, Boston Common Asset Management, LLC, a SVTC Solar Scorecard sponsor. “Solar companies that score in the single digits for several years in a row should be a red flag for investors.”

SVTC plans to update the scores in December 2013 to show companies’ progress. SVTC has developed guidelines for online reporting on key issues related to recycling, emissions, worker health, and safety and waste issues.


Sheila Davis

Executive Director, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition

(408) 287-6707 (office)
(415) 846-6331 (cell)

Julia Sinykin

The Hoffman Agency for Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition

(508) 329-3319

About Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition

Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition is a non-profit organization engaged in research, advocacy, and grassroots organizing to promote human health and environmental justice in response to the rapid growth of the high-tech industry. For more information.

About Boston Common Asset Management, LLC

Boston Common Asset Management is an investment manager and a leader in global sustainability initiatives. Boston Common specializes in long-only equity and balanced strategies and pursue long-term capital appreciation by seeking to invest in diversified portfolios of high quality, socially responsible stocks. Through rigorous analysis of financial, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors we identify what it believes are attractively valued companies for investment. As shareholders, Boston Common urges portfolio companies to improve transparency, accountability, and attention to ESG issues.  Boston Common’s focus is global; it manages international and U.S. portfolios to meet the needs of institutional and individual investors.  As of June 30, 2013, Boston Common managed approximately $1.9 billion, including subadvised assets. We are independent, employee-owned, and field a seasoned, close-knit team of professionals.

Published On: August 13, 2013Categories: From the Commons