The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) plans to add end-of-life photovoltaic (PV) modules to the State universal waste regulations, declassifying most PV modules from their current hazardous waste designation.
By adding PV modules, also known as solar panels, to the State universal waste regulations, legislators hope to encourage proper waste disposal, reduce waste abandonment, and increase cost savings for PV module waste generators.
Current End-of-Life PV Module Hazardous Waste Regulations
PV modules fall under the Golden State’s hazardous waste regulations primarily due to their glass and metal components. Solar panels can be made of palladium, silver, nickel, copper, or cadmium. When not disposed of properly, these metals can leach into the soil and groundwater.
For public safety and to protect the environment, California classified end-of-life solar panels as a hazardous waste in 2015,
regulating them under Title 22, Division 20, Chapter 6.5 of the California Code of Regulations.
The DTSC has cited these stringent regulations as a significant burden on generators, disincentivizing them from properly disposing of PV module waste.
Proposed Changes to the California Universal Waste Regulations
Due to concerns of improper disposal
, as well as the low risk posed by PV modules, the DTSC recommends streamlining the PV module waste collection, transport, and treatment to meet California’s universal waste requirements. listed in Title 22, Division 4.5, Chapter 23.
The DTSC has cited the successful inclusion of electronic waste to the universal waste requirements as a positive sign that PV modules’ inclusion will also be a win for waste generators, handlers, and transporters.
According to the DTSC, the proposed regulation will affect how PV module waste is contained, transported, and treated
through the following standards:
- Applying the same transportation standards as for all other universal wastes (i.e., a business may only transport the waste to a destination facility or to another universal waste handler)
- Allowing treatment methods for PV modules that primarily change only the physical shape of the waste (e.g., breaking, shredding, crushing, compacting) and that separate processed material by its physical properties (e.g., size, color, density)
- Specifying the appropriate management standards for the different levels of treatment to ensure that treatment is performed safely by handlers who do not have a hazardous waste facility permit that they would otherwise be required to obtain. DTSC establishes this form of self-implementing authorization because a full or standardized hazardous waste facility permit is not commensurate with the hazards posed by treating PV modules.
The DTSC is currently seeking public comments
on the proposed PV module waste management regulations. Public comments may be submitted via e-mail here
until June 10, 2019.
Be Ready for New Hazardous Waste Regulations Coming Soon to CA
Join us at one of Lion’s California Hazardous Waste Management Workshops
coming to the Golden State in July. You will leave with in-depth knowledge of the DTSC regulations, feeling confident in your ability to implement and comply with Title 22 regs at your facility.
Choose from one of four course dates at a city near you, so you never have to travel too far for too long: