Extended Producer Responsibility for Solar Photovoltaic panels: Practices and challenges for end-of-life management in Germany, Italy and Switzerland

University essay from Lunds universitet/Internationella miljöinstitutet

Abstract: As the capacity of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels installed around the world increases every year, so does the concern regarding their proper end-of-life management given the hazardous nature of this waste. European Member States such as Germany, Italy and Spain, being amongst the earliest adopters of this technology, have already started seeing end-of-life PV modules coming into the waste streams. In order to address the concerns regarding their proper handling, PV has been added as a separate waste category in the recast WEEE Directive (2012/19/EU) and falls under the increasingly ambitious targets set by the Directive for all the Member States. This thesis will evaluate the EPR systems in three case countries – Germany, Italy and Switzerland with a focus on policy transpositions, adaptation of the existing to include this new waste stream and the overall performance of each system in achieving its intended outcomes. Different Member States have transposed the new Directive in different ways into their national legislations and this brings up the question of how each systems is performing. By using complementary analytical methods combined with the intervention theory and a general performance framework, this thesis will evaluate each of the systems based on the three main goals of EPR: Improved Waste Management practices, Closed Material Loop and Eco-Design. The findings highlight where the systems have succeeded and where they face challenges. Recommendations are made on the basis of these findings that can be used to enhance the system performances.

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