Significant amounts of photovoltaic (PV) panels are placed on the market (POM) in Europe every year, and there has been a huge increase over the past three years with the European Union increasing the cumulative installed solar power capacity by 15% to 137.2 GW by the end of 2020. A new WEEE Forum paper looks at the effect this has on meeting the targets of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) legislation and calls on legislators and policy makers to address the issues it causes.
PV panels have been in the scope of Directive 2012/19/EU on WEEE since August 2012 and are classified as category 4: “large equipment”. Member States are supposed to ensure that collection targets for this category are achieved on a yearly basis. From 2019, the collection targets to be achieved are 65% of the average weight of EEE POM in the three preceding years in the Member State concerned, or 85% of WEEE generated on the territory of that Member State.
However, due to the long lifespans of PV panels and recent market penetration, PV panels are not yet arising as waste in significant quantities. The WEEE Directive does not set a specific category for PV panels, nor a specific collection target. Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) in some Member States are still required to report PV panels mixed with other category 4 waste types, making it impossible to trace and monitor PV panel flows independent of other waste types.
As most Member States apply the collection target based on the POM methodology, this means that collection targets for PV panels are not achievable. It is of concern that to be able to reach those collection targets, some PROs are required to compensate the low return of PV panels by collecting higher amounts of other category 4 waste appliances, which distorts the basic principles of the Directive, especially the extended producer responsibility principle.
The paper, produced by the WEEE Forum in conjunction with its working group on PV Panels, analyses the PV market situation and the difficulties in achieving the EPR obligations laid down in WEEE legislation and offers policy recommendations. The main messages from the paper are:
The full paper can be read here.
The WEEE Forum a.i.s.b.l. is an international association representing 52 producer responsibility organisations across the globe. Together with our members, we are at the forefront of turning the extended producer responsibility principle into an effective electronic waste management policy approach through our combined knowledge of the technical, business and operational aspects of collection, logistics, de-pollution, processing, preparing for reuse and reporting of e-waste. Our mission is to be the world’s foremost e-waste competence centre excelling in the implementation of the circularity principle.
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