The WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) directive regulates the proper recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment and its financing by producers and distributers in the European Union. This law for the disposal of electronic waste, which in future also defines discarded solar modules as electronic waste, has been revised at the European level. The European Union requires the implementation of WEEE2 in national law by February 2014. At the time of implementation, a free return system for solar modules will be created in all European Union countries. Producers and distributers will then share responsibility for accepting and properly disposing of returned solar modules. The activities for the implementation of WEEE have already begun in Europe and several countries have already implemented the ratified WEEE2 into national law. However, the majority of the EU countries will implement the WEEE2 during the course of the year 2014.
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.