Waste & Resource Recovery

Total Environment Centre calls for national scheme for solar panel recycling

Australian environmental group Total Environment Centre (TEC) is calling on state and Federal governments to support solar panel recycling to reduce the number of older panels, which are reaching the end of their life, from ending up in landfill.

Last year, Australia’s environment ministers agreed to fast-track new recycling schemes to manage solar panels across their entire lifecycle, however, TEC says that red tape is currently holding the process up.

The group is now calling on the government for a safe and eco-friendly recycling plan to be implemented.

“Solar panel systems offer households and businesses a cost-effective source of zero-emissions electricity,” Jeff Angel, TEC director, told Energy Matters.

“However, they contain hazardous substances that can cause pollution at landfill sites. Their main components are glass, polymer and aluminium; however, they also contain lead, copper and zinc.

“Inaction means Australia has a fundamental weakness in its solar waste policies. Simple and effective recycling strategies are urgently needed because more than two million households now boast solar installations, which will create a solar panel pile-up in coming years if not addressed.”

Most solar panels have a lifetime of up to 30 years, which means the first-generation solar panels from the 90s will be approaching the end of their lives soon.