Solar Supply Chain Traceability Protocol
The ability to trace the provenance of products and components through the value chain, from input materials to the finished product, is necessary and important for a variety of reasons, including sustainability, environment, health, and safety (EHS), and social responsibility. From upholding corporate social responsibility principles to quality assurance and environmental performance, robust product traceability provides openness and transparency.
The solar energy industry delivers sustainability solutions to customers by producing energy with low greenhouse gas impacts, improving energy security, and creating jobs and economic development. These considerations, however, are only part of the industry’s role in sustainability. More broadly, the solar energy industry has a responsibility to mitigate and manage its full range of social and environmental impacts, which include respecting the human rights of workers, ensuring that the rights of communities and other stakeholders are respected, and making business operations safe and environmentally responsible.
To help meet these responsibilities, in 2013, SEIA launched the Solar Industry Commitment to Environmental & Social Responsibility (“Solar Commitment”). The Solar Commitment, developed through a multi-stakeholder process, is an industry code of conduct which defines common practices and expectations for environmental, ethical, labor, health & safety, and management systems. Transparency is one of the fundamental tools to show an entity’s dedication and progress toward implementing the Solar Commitment.
In this context, the U.S. government has identified forced labor as an area of concern for the solar supply chain. U.S. solar customers are also increasingly seeking assurances that the products they purchase are truly sustainable and, in particular, free of forced labor. Building upon the industry’s prior work and to address government and consumer concerns, SEIA has developed this Solar Supply Chain Traceability Protocol 1.0 (“Protocol”).
The Protocol is a set of recommended policies and procedures designed to (i) identify the source of a product’s material inputs, and (ii) trace the movement of these inputs throughout the supply chain. By implementing the key principles of the Protocol, companies are better able to meet their U.S. import compliance obligations and provide customers supply chain transparency. The Protocol also incorporates an independent, third-party audit mechanism to measure a company’s implementation of traceability policies and procedures.