As part of its efforts to drive industry best practices and strengthen its responsible sourcing program, US-headquartered First Solar, Inc. announced it has joined the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), the world’s largest industry coalition dedicated to supporting the rights and well-being of workers and communities in the global supply chain. It is the first of the world’s 10 largest photovoltaic (PV) solar manufacturers to join the RBA.
As a regular member of the RBA, First Solar has aligned itself with the organization’s vision of creating a coalition of companies driving sustainable value for workers, the environment and business throughout the global supply chain. It has also pledged to support the RBA’s mission to collaborate with other members, its suppliers, and stakeholders to improve working and environmental conditions and business performance through leading standards and practices. First Solar’s membership also gives it access to the RBA’s due diligence tools and programs, and the company will leverage RBA’s Validated Assessment Program (VAP), which is a leading standard for onsite compliance verification and effective, shareable audits.
“Quite simply, our decision to join the RBA is underpinned by our commitment to Responsible Solar. It represents our efforts to build on our track record of responsible sourcing by leveraging the RBA’s tools and comprehensive Validated Assessment Program, which conducts third-party audits of potential high-risk suppliers,” said Mike Koralewski, chief manufacturing operations officer, First Solar. “As the solar industry struggles to address issues like forced labor in the absence of credible audit programs, the VAP illustrates the fact that there is no need to reinvent the wheel in the search for a robust and reputable assessment framework.”
First Solar, the only US-headquartered company among the world’s largest solar manufacturers, already has a longstanding zero-tolerance policy towards forced labor, requiring its suppliers to abide by its standards and policies, regardless of geographical location. As an RBA member it is committed to complying with the RBA’s Code of Conduct in its global operations and progressively implementing the RBA approach and tools in the spirit of the coalition’s common goals. The RBA’s Code of Conduct, which references international human rights declarations and due diligence guidelines, addresses the areas of environmental, health and safety, ethics, labor and human rights. First Solar is also committed to progressively applying the RBA Code of Conduct to its suppliers, monitoring its application using RBA practices and tools, and encouraging its suppliers to do the same.