Recycling Photovoltaic Systems is a Growing Priority

Category : Ewaste Recycling

Renewable energy technologies need to be effectively managed at end-of-life (EoL), and this means a much stronger Product Stewardship approach by manufacturers, suppliers and installers is required.

At a recent seminar presented at the Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo in Melbourne, there was clear agreement that much more can be done to ensure that end-of-life photovoltaic panels and energy storage batteries, do not end up in landfill.

Photovoltaic (PV) systems, including energy storage are also featured on the Department of the Environment and Energy’s (DOEE) website in relation to possible stewardship action in accordance with Section 108A of the Product Stewardship Act 2011 (the Act). As a result, the Minister for the Environment and Energy is considering whether some form of accreditation or regulation under the Act might be appropriate.

According to the DOEE website, PV systems are becoming increasingly common as the community adopts solar energy technology. Furthermore, the volume of photovoltaic system equipment reaching end-of-life is expected to sharply increase in coming years to become Australia’s largest electronic waste growth stream.

“Components of photovoltaic systems may contain hazardous substances. Photovoltaic systems also contain many recoverable materials of value. The complexity of these systems creates challenges for the full recovery of valuable materials” according to the DOEE.

“There is potential to increase the recovery of valuable resources through improved collection and recycling pathways, while also reducing the impacts of hazardous materials on the environment and human health through diverting materials from landfills.”

The AWRE seminar discussed the status of stewardship for PV systems and the various issues that need to be addressed, including scheme design and financing, the role of regulation, and why installers are an essential part of the supply chain when it comes to recovering end-of-life product.

The overall conclusion is that much more needs to be done to ensure that end-of-life photovoltaic systems do not become an environmental burden, and that a strong stewardship approach is the sensible approach.

As part of its e-waste recycling and product stewardship services, MRI E-cycle Solutions can help manufacturers, suppliers and installers of PV systems ensure that unwanted, obsolete and EoL equipment is recycled in an environmentally robust manner.

For more information about the Product Stewardship Act Priority Product List, visit the Department of the Environment and Energy web page:

More information

Will LeMessurier
Managing Director, MRI E-cycle Solutions
Mobile:  0419 302 682