Waste crisis looms as thousands of solar panels reach end of life

Waste crisis looms as thousands of solar panels reach end of life, by Nicole Hasham.

Thousands of ageing rooftop solar panels represent a toxic time-bomb and major economic waste unless Australia acts swiftly to keep them out of landfill, conservationists and recyclers say. …

As of December more than 2 million Australian households had rooftop solar installed. The uptake continues to grow due to the technology’s falling cost and rising electricity bills.

Photovoltaic panels last about 30 years, and those installed at the turn of the millennium are nearing the end of their lives. Many have already been retired due to faults or damage during transport and installation. …

Some get damaged in hail storms?

[Total Environment Centre director Jeff Angel] said photovoltaic panels contain hazardous substances and “when we are sending hundreds of thousands of e-waste items to landfill we are also creating a pollution problem”.

“It’s a systemic problem that [applies to] a whole range of products”, he said, saying schemes were badly needed for paint, batteries, floor coverings, commercial furniture and many types of electronic waste. …

Victoria will ban electronic waste in landfill from July 2019, including all parts of a photovoltaic system, mirroring schemes imposed in Europe. …

Reclaim PV director Clive Fleming, whose business is believed to be the only dedicated photovoltaic recycler in Australia, said it recycles 90 per cent of materials in a panel.