ITEK Energy limits single-use plastic with reusable solar panel packaging

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American PV module maker ITEK Energy has partnered with EckPack to implement its ‘Trio‘ solar module packaging system. After noticing that 90% of the plastic components shipped with modules were undamaged and reusable, the company has now started a program to collect, and re-use these components.

The company started using the EckPack system to protect solar panels from damage in shipping. In addition to collecting the plastic parts, they’re now testing a program to include the wood pallets that the solar panels are on in the same program.

The company includes a large tote, in image above, with the original delivery of solar modules. ITEK has established a relationship with Oak Harbor Freight lines to pick up and return the totes to ITEK after the project.

ITEK says it has reused 40,000 individual pieces – approximately 5,000 pounds worth of plastic – during the six months that it has been running the program. Broken plastic parts are recycled.

EckPack’s annual production capacity hit 7GW in 2012.

ITEK Energy makes PV modules in both Washington State and Minnesota. The company recently announced an expansion of its capacity, christening a new factory in Bellingham, Washington in October 2017. The facility has a 150 MW/year capacity to produce 60-cell (PDF) and 72-cell (PDF) 5-busbar solar modules. The company’s 72 cell solar panels range from 350-370W, with an efficiency of 17.5-18.5%. Itek’s 60-cell modules range from 295-315W each, with a similar efficiency.

Including both its Washington and Minnesota factories, ITEK now has the capacity to produce 210 MW of PV modules annually, making it one of the largest PV makers in the United States.