Recycling of renewable waste is an urgent need
Giant wind turbine blades can be as long as a football field and as strong as a linebacker.
“They are designed to break,” Julie Angulo told CBS News. “So, when your job is to break them, obviously it’s difficult.”
Angulo’s company, Veolia, stores windmill blades at a quarry in Missouri, Louisiana, before it shrinks and shreds used blades.
Cement manufacturers use shredded windmill blades as fuel instead of burning coal, reducing planet-warming carbon emissions at cement plants by about 30%.
What happens to windmill blades that are not recycled?
“What happens, or what happens, unfortunately, is that most of it ends up in landfills,” Angulo said.
Most used windmill blades are buried in the ground because it’s a black eye for cheap, green energy. By 2050, the world’s wind industry is expected to produce 47 million tons of blade waste per year, according to a study by the University of Cambridge.
Finding ways to recycle windmill blades and used solar panels is powering the industry. A solar panel recycling plant in Yuma, Arizona can process 7,500 panels a day. Solar is the fastest growing energy source in the U.S. Panels can last 25 to 30 years, but more than 90% of used panels end up in landfills.
“There was no waste management plan,” said Adam Sagay with We Recycle Solar. “It was just going in the dumpster, and you’re just creating a big problem that doesn’t need to be there.”
But with the tsunami of renewable waste coming, recyclers are ramping up to ride the wave.
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