WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has deemed it to be in the best interests of its citizens to create recycling programs for items such as tires, plastic containers, electronics, etc. and
WHEREAS solar panels are now reaching a point where replacement is required; and
WHEREAS the materials and elements used in the construction of solar panels can be hazardous or could be recycled but at a significant cost;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) request that the Government of Alberta expand existing recycling programs to include solar panels (photovoltaic modules).
It appears that the State of Washington is taking the lead regarding the issue and has passed the Solar Incentives Job Bill (ESSB 5939) of which Section 12 states the following:
The legislature finds that a convenient, safe, and environmentally sound system for the recycling of photovoltaic modules, minimization of hazardous waste, and recovery of commercially valuable materials must be established. The legislature further finds that the responsibility for this system must be shared among all stakeholders, with manufacturers financing the take back and recycling system.
The industry in Alberta is nowhere near as mature as the one in Washington, but it would be prudent to create a program early on and not when significant costs would have to be borne by the taxpayer.
7-15F: Agriculture Plastics Recycling
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that Alberta Environment and Parks develop a recycling program to provide for the collection and recycling of agricultural plastics in Alberta.
DEVELOPMENTS: The AAMDC believes that a coordinated, province-wide approach to end of life management for agriculture plastics is the most effective means of limiting the amount of agriculture plastics that end up in landfills. Currently, some rural municipalities have provided recycling options for this material, but due to its large size and limited recycling options, these programs are beyond the capacity of most municipalities.
The AAMDC has been collaborating with other municipal associations, AAMDC members, and with the Recycling Council of Alberta to explore options used in other provinces and will continue to identify opportunities for advocacy alignment. In recent months, the AAMDC has made progress with Alberta Environment and Parks and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry in emphasizing the need for an agriculture plastics program and anticipates that discussions will continue moving in a positive direction. Until a coordinated recycling program is developed, this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met. The AAMDC will continue to work with other stakeholders and advocate for the formation of a program to enable the recycling of agriculture plastics.
Alberta Environment and Parks
Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) recognizes the value of renewable energy and the role that solar panels can play in any renewable strategy. The ministry also understands that solar panels have a long but finite life, and there may be value in their component parts.
The GoA would be interested in receiving more information on the subject, as a starting point. While there is no plan at this time for a regulated provincial recycling program for solar panels, there may be an opportunity to discuss waste management of this material through existing government efforts.
The ministry would welcome any further information the Rural Municipalities of Alberta has that could help to inform future policy on the issue.
Alberta Energy has no further input beyond the response from AEP.
The majority of solar panels operate with a 25- to 30-year lifespan, and many of the systems installed since solar energy became financially viable are still in operation. This has meant that the recycling of solar panels has not yet become a widespread issue. However, there will be a time in the near future when an economic and pragmatic approach to solar panel recycling is needed.
RMA is interested in seeing proper end-of-life management programs developed for a wide range of materials used commonly in the province, including solar panels. RMA is awaiting a review of Alberta’s recycling program, and hopes that solar panel recycling will be considered within that review. At the current time, this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.