Thursday 28 March 2024   


The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) today welcomed the Australian Government’s shift to support onshore solar manufacturing in Australia.

“WMRR welcomes all investment which will drive down harmful greenhouse gas emissions, create green jobs and assist in the transition to a net zero economy, however, key to this transition to onshore manufacturing is ensuring circular principles are at the heart of this scheme,” said WMRR Chief Executive Officer Gayle Sloan.

“This means designing for recovery and re-use in Australia, as well as using Australian recycled materials and critical minerals in the manufacturing process,” she said.

“Given the significant issue that both solar panels and wind turbines are creating at end of life we must ensure there is a plan for managing that as well."

Solar panel waste is a growing problem with a report released this week showing it is forecast to reach one (1) million tonnes by 2035. It currently costs around $28 to recycle a solar panel in Australia, compared with $4.50 for sending it to landfill. That doesn’t make sense and wastes valuable resources given each panel contains aluminium, glass, silver, copper and silicon all of which can be recovered, recycled and reused in new solar panels and for other purposes.

“Australia has the highest rate of rooftop solar in the world which is terrific achievement but many of those panels are now reaching end of life so it’s vital we build up the capacity of collection, recovery and recycling facilities now. This injection of funding and government focus presents the perfect opportunity to do just that.

“The Australian Government has committed to a national solar photovoltaic system extended producer responsibility scheme by the end of 2025. It is vital it brings all these initiatives together to establish a strong circular system for solar panels as a matter of priority - creating green jobs, green investment and a circular sustainable industry wholly within Australia.

“WMRR looks forward to working with the Australian Government and the solar manufacturing industry to build a greener, circular and sustainable Australia,” Ms Sloan said.