Solar panels are an excellent source for renewable power, but there’s no plan for the e-waste they will create when they reach the end of their life. The International Renewable Energy Agency projects by 2050 up to 78 million metric tons of solar panels will have reached the end of their life, generating about 6 million metric tons of new solar e-waste annually.
If recycling mandates aren’t put into place, many of the panels will go to landfills, which contain toxic materials that can create environmental hazards.
In the EU, solar producers are required to recycle solar panels properly. For example, a nonprofit named PV Cycle is dedicated to solar panel take-back and recycling. Recycling programs are being create in Japan, India, and Australia. And in the U.S., with the exception of a law in Washington state, there are no programs. For the industry to grow, it will need new policies and regulations.
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