Orleans asks state to develop recycling regulations for solar panels

File photo by Tom Rivers: Workers from Sole Contracting in Delaware install solar panel in early February 2019 by the Albion sewer plant on Densmore Street. The solar project included 3,888 solar panels.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 December 2021 at 4:37 pm

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature is asking state officials to establish solar panel recycling regulations.

The County Legislature last week passed a resolution that stated there is a rise in the use of solar panels, which has led to an accumulation of waste at the end of the life of the panels.

The solar panels contain recyclable aluminum, glass and plastic, as well as photovoltaic cells, which contain various valuable materials and rare metals, legislators said.

“Proper recycling of the solar panels will ensure that these materials and metals are able to be reused, but also ensures that the panels do not prematurely enter the waste stream where they can have potential negative environmental effects,” county legislators stated in their resolution.

Legislators are urging the state to develop “a convenient, safe and environmentally sound system for the recycling of photovoltaic modules, the minimization of hazard waste, and the recovery of commercially valuable materials.”

The responsibility for the reduction of solar panels in the waste stream should be shared among all stakeholders, with manufacturers financing the takeback and recycling system, county legislators said.

The county said the State Legislature should develop regulations utilizing the state’s own Sustainable Materials Management Model (so that the social, economic and environmental consequences of the choices made today do not adversely impact future generations.

The solar panel recycling regulations also should consistent for all counties in the state, the County Legislature said.