India stares at pile of solar e-waste

  1. A recent study by energy consultancy firm, Bridge to India, has estimated that India’s photovoltaic (PV) waste volume would grow to 1.8 million tonne by 2050. The study has advocated urgent framing of a policy for solar module waste management and standards for use of environmentally sustainable material for manufacturing.
  2. Solar cell modules are composed of glass, aluminium and potentially hazardous materials such as lead compounds, polymers and cadmium compounds. These when disposed of in an inappropriate way can have negative environmental and health impacts.
  3. Despite the environmental concerns, India which is among the leading markets for solar cells in the world, do not have a requisite policy guideline to ensure recycling of module waste. The E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 do not cover solar e-waste.
  4. The report has noted that technology for solar e-waste recycling remains in a nascent stage globally and the high cost of recycling makes it further financially unviable.
  5. The report has also cited best practices. For example: The European Union (EU) has Eco-Design Directive 2009 in place. It is a policy instrument to reduce environmental impact of energy-related products throughout their life cycle.