Another panel crushing solar recycling plant is due to kick off operations in Queensland later this year, after Reclaim PV Recycling won development approval and got the environmental green light to develop a second plant in Brisbane.
Reclaim said on Wednesday that the new Brisbane plant would add to its first site in Lonsdale, South Australia, which has been cleared to start recycling around 70,000 panels a year next month.
In Brisbane, Reclaim says it has collected more than 30,000 panels from across the Sunshine State since February 2020 for recycling in the new plant that will be set up with the support of funding from the state government.
Beyond Brisbane and Adelaide, the company also has plans to establish further facilities in the other major metropolitan areas in the next one to two years, according to Reclaim PV director Clive Fleming.
“Securing this second DA marks another significant milestone for Reclaim PV in the establishment of Australia’s first national solar panel recovery and recycling network,” he said.
“Australia’s rooftop solar installations are the highest in the world (on a per capita basis), with approximately 60 million or 21.4 gigawatts (GW) installed so far (as of 31 March 2021) and research is suggesting that there will be more than 1 million panels requiring replacement annually by 2031.
“We need a nation-wide approach to managing the replacement and recycling of faulty, non-performing and end of life solar panels before this gets unmanageable and we start to see 2,000 tonnes of waste making its way to landfill annually.”
Dedicated solar panel recycling has been slow to get moving in Australia, although one of the nation’s first PV recycling facilities got up and running in Melbourne’s north in May, run by Melbourne based co-operative Lotus Energy.
Reclaim’s approach to the recycling challenge includes a plan to work with industry, commercial solar users and all levels of government to introduce sustainable recovery and recycling practices across the whole supply chain to support a “circular economy.”
The company is also establishing a network of drop off locations for solar panels to be recycled by the Brisbane plant, in partnership with Queensland councils and waste transfer sites as well as the solar industry and environmental companies.
“Our vision is for Reclaim PV to be the catalyst to bring government, businesses and consumers together in this relatively young industry to both create and accelerate the end-to-end recovery and recycling of solar panels,” said Fleming.
“Together, we can make a significant difference for many generations to come.”