India Stares at Pile of Solar E-Waste

Why in News?

  • According to a recent study conducted by an energy consultancy firm Bridge To India
  • (BTI) Ltd., India’s PV (photovoltaic) waste volume is estimated to grow to 2,00,000 tonnes by 2030 and around 1.8 million tonnes by 2050.


  • PV waste recycling is still at a nascent stage globally, both in terms of technical standards and physical infrastructure. The waste is usually sent to laminated glass and metal recyclers that recover 70-80% of the material by weight.
  • PV module recycling is still not commercially viable as total estimated cost including transportation can vary between USD 400-600/ tonne, far exceeding value of the recovered material.

India’s status:

  • India is among the leading markets for solar cells in the world, buoyed by the government’s commitment to install 100 GW of solar power by 2022.
  • So far, India has installed solar cells for about 28 GW and this is largely from imported solar PV cells.
  • India’s e-waste rules have no laws mandating solar cell manufacturers to recycle or dispose waste from this sector.
  • Issues in dealing with Solar e-waste:
  • Lack of a policy framework is coupled with the fact that even basic recycling facilities for laminated glass and e-waste are unavailable.
  • These modules are 80% glass and aluminium, and non-hazardous.
  • Other materials used, including polymers, metals, metallic compounds and alloys, and are classified as potentially hazardous.


  • Mandating module manufacturers to use environmentally sustainable design and materials with end-of-life in mind (similar to the eco-design initiative of the EU).
  • Specifying liability and responsibility of each stakeholder for waste management and treatment.
  • Laying down standards for PV waste collection, treatment and disposal.
  • Encouraging mutual recycling responsibility agreements between module suppliers, project developers and power purchasers.
  • Undertaking regular surveys of recycling facilities to understand technology and capacity levels.
  • Identifying investment and technical requirements for dedicated PV recycling facilities with focus on high-value recovery.
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