Recycling wind turbines not a ‘major headache’, EMR says

Global metals recycling company EMR has hit back at claims that the recycling of wind turbines is causing a “major headache”.

Wind turbine recycling
EMR said around 85% of a wind turbine made from steel which is 'easy to recycle'

Last week, the Times reported that wind turbines reaching the end of their operational use are now either going to be stored or sent to landfill while the industry battles the recycling of them.

Campaign group Scotland Against Spin also highlighted that turbines are creating a waste problem.

In response, EMR said today that as one of the companies working to recycle these turbines – and to create a sustainable, circular economy for the materials they contain – it “is in a great position to correct this narrative”.


Wind turbine recycling
Dr Charlotte Stamper, energy infrastructure lead at EMR

Dr Charlotte Stamper, energy infrastructure lead at EMR, said: “Firstly, it is important to note that most wind turbines ‘pay back’ the carbon impact of their production within their first year of operation and go on to provide decades of clean energy.

“The very first wind turbines to be erected in Scotland are now reaching the end of their operational lives but, rather than creating a ‘major headache’, EMR and others are already busy recycling them.”

Dr Stamper added that wind turbines are proving to be a “rich source of high-quality, low carbon recyclable material”, with around 85% of a wind turbine “made from steel which is easy to recycle and can be melted down and reused infinitely”.

She added that copper, aluminium and even concrete are also being recycled as these turbines are being decommissioned.


Wind turbine recycling
The government has previously been urged to roll out an EPR scheme for wind turbines

As the first wind turbines reach the end of their operational life, the issue of their recyclability has been rising to the surface in the last year or so.

In February, the government was urged to introduce an extended producer responsibility scheme for wind turbines to prepare for a “tsunami of waste” from the sector in 2030 (see letsrecycle.com story).

The call was made in a report produced by circular economy consultancy firm Gate C and commissioned by Green Purposes Company (GPC). The GPC says it “has one primary function: to protect the green purposes of the Green Investment Group”.


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