Addressing the impending crisis of solar photovoltaic waste in India: a comprehensive recycling framework with policy solutions
The solar photovoltaic industry is witnessing a remarkable expansion worldwide. India is ranked fourth globally in ground-mounted photovoltaic deployment. While this is impressive, the waste resulting from such end-of-life photovoltaic panels is expected to be enormous at 4.5 million tonnes by 2050, as per our estimates. In the absence of suitable infrastructure facilities and a lack of proactive policies for recycling, waste accumulation can become an unmanageable problem. To address this, propose a recycling framework that prioritises the establishment of clusters, collection centres, and recycling units to minimise transport costs and distances. To deduce the framework’s efficacy, it was applied to Karnataka, India. Also evaluated the country's global standing in terms of policy and recycling maturity levels and identified policy imperatives for the effective execution of the recycling framework for a seamless transition to the circular economy. Further, investigated opportunities in business expansion and investment promotion to facilitate effective waste management. This study highlights the importance of establishing a comprehensive monitoring and reporting system in India and regular engagements among policymakers, industry, civil society, and academia to foster sustainable circular economy practices in photovoltaic waste management.