EPA funds solar panel recycling trial

PV Industries’ Circular Solar Trial has brought together a collaborative and industry-led approach to develop solar panel recycling and end-of-life solutions for the solar and lithium-ion battery economies.

This project has been funded under the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) Circular Solar grants program. The EPA is supporting this project through its Circular Solar Grants Program with funding of $997,969.

Project outcomes:
● Develop a novel solar panel recycling process for use in NSW by PV Industries.
● Establish a metro and regional collection and logistics network in partnership with
local government and Greentech Sydney.
● Activate end-markets for recovered solar panel glass in partnership with University of
New South Wales’ School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and John Holland.
● Enable future opportunities for solar panel reuse, in partnership with UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering.
● Improved procedures for safe handling and transport of lithium-ion batteries, in partnership with the CSIRO.
● Assessment of the solar industry to identify solar panel recycling market challenges and opportunities, in partnership with University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, NSW Circular, Maoneng and Spark Renewables.

PV Industries is a solar panel recycling and resource recovery company.

It has brought together a project team that is placed to address challenges facing the industry, including: John Holland, the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, the University of New South Wales, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Project partners include: NSW Circular, the City of Newcastle, the Hunter Joint Organisation, the Canberra Region Joint Organisation, Maoneng, Spark Renewables and Greentech Sydney.

The project will improve safe handling and transport procedures, establish a collection and logistics network for urban and regional NSW, optimise solar panel recycling and processing techniques, develop new end-markets for recovered materials and enable future market opportunities for reuse.

“Our team is excited to be working on this important initiative which will address a rapidly  growing waste issue for NSW,” says Timothy Dawson, CEO of PV Industries. “We have been working closely with the solar industry for a few years now and this project will support the industry as it continues to grow.”

The project will continue to increase diversion of solar panel waste from landfill, stimulate economic activity, and demonstrate the business case for a safe and sustainable circular solar and battery economy in NSW.

“The funding has allowed us to rapidly expand our capabilities and services available to
industry in NSW and Australia,” says James Petesic, co-founder of PV Industries.

Research shows solar as an area of waste is only expected to grow in the coming years, with solar panels reaching end-of-life after 10 years; 88,000 small-scale solar installations in NSW are already over 10 years old; by 2035 around 30,000 tonnes of solar panels in NSW will need to be recycled or otherwise disposed of.

“The EPA’s Circular Solar Grants program is directly focused on finding solutions to the emerging solar panel waste stream,” said Kristie Brown, director of Circular Economy Programs, NSW EPA.
“It’s a program that supports the type of trials proposed by PV Industries – collaborative ‘whole of supply chain’ projects that provide innovative solutions to manage end-of-life solar panels and battery systems. It’s all part of building the circular economy of the future in NSW.”