Calling it “an exclusive club,” Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler recognized First Solar Inc.’s Perrysburg Township production facility as only the 18th business in the state to receive a gold-level award from the state Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA)’s Encouraging Environmental Excellence program, The Toledo Blade reports. The award “recognizes businesses and groups for environmental stewardship, compiling not only an excellent record for complying with rules, but also demonstrating a long-term commitment to reduce waste,” according to the article. Butler said the Ohio EPA “could not find a better partner than First Solar,” calling their program “one of the best programs we’ve ever seen.” First Solar estimates recycling rates of “more than 95 percent of the semiconductor material and 90 percent of the glass it uses.” Additionally, in 2011, the company switched from sandblasting to a laser operation to remove semiconductor material from glass panels, which eliminates 16,000 lbs. of waste annually. Minimizing waste at the beginning of the manufacturing process as well as the end “reduces costs and is part of First Solar’s global values.” For more, read the full article.