The EU directive WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) regulates the proper recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment and its financing by manufacturers and distributors at the European level. This law for the disposal of electronic waste, which in the future also defines discarded solar modules as electronic waste, has been revised at the European Level (WEEE2). At the time of implementation, a free return system for solar modules will be created in all European Union countries. Manufacturers and distributors will then share responsibility for accepting and properly disposing of returned solar modules. Activities to implement WEEE2 began in January 2014 and some countries have already ratified WEEE2 into national law. Originally, the European Union required the implementation of WEEE2 into national law by February 2014. The Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act took effect in Germany on October 24, 2015. This now also applies to modules, which must be reported to the EAR Foundation (German national register for waste electrical and electronic equipment) within a transitional period of 3 months.
Until now, SolarWorld has committed to the voluntary acceptance of old modules in Germany in order to reflect the importance of environmental protection and in particular the proper disposal of old modules. Since 2013, this voluntary take-back obligation has been expanded to all countries in the European Union. We also have partner companies in the U.S. to carry out recycling.
With the implementation of WEEE2 in the EU member states, the right of return changes fundamentally for consumers. Previously accepted voluntarily by SolarWorld, in the future, old modules will be brought by owners to municipal waste disposal centers or, for large quantities, picked up at the source location. Requests for pickup and disposal pass through a central point, the so-called National Registers. They use a lottery system based on market share to inform a manufacturer, which is then responsible for the proper disposal of the old modules. According to information from the disposal industry, significantly reduced prices for the recycling of old modules can be expected in the future. This depends primarily on settled legislation, and furthermore on the development of the required disposal technology at certified waste management companies. Certified waste management companies are currently able to recycle old modules in such a way that almost all of the reusable material can be fed into production processes as secondary raw materials.