Disposal of Photovoltaic (PV) Waste in Canada - Text

Vision: A country that values circular economies to create a cleaner, healthier planet for generations to come. 

Mission: To promote a closed-loop system in which solar panel recycling is an essential component of the renewable energy lifecycle. 

Manufacturing high-quality solar panels requires rare elements such as tellurium, which is 3x rarer than gold! 

National installed solar capacity will increase by 20x from 2019 to 2050 in a net- zero scenario 

By creating PV recycling infrastructure, Canada can seize the economic opportunity and supply chains embodied in dead solar panels. 

Burying PVs in landfills causes the heavy metals they contain to leach into groundwater and soil. 

Consuming the resulting contaminated water and foods can lead to irreversible damage of the nervous system, heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. PV waste is at risk of becoming a public health crisis. 

Burying PVs in landfills leaches toxic metals into the soil and water, which can damage crops, cause acid rain, and disrupt the food chain. 

Because of a lack of policy mandating the recycling and end-of-life handling of plastics, plastic pollution has become an environmental crisis. Without action today, PVs will go the same way. 

Landfill sites selected to bury PV waste tend to be in rural, Indigenous, and/or low-income areas. The resulting toxic leeching disproportionately affects these marginalized groups, undermining social equity. 

Contaminants stay in the soil for over 100s of years. 

Shifting the system to recycling will help mitigate racial, economic, and social disparities. 


Save healthcare dollars from the health impacts of pollution; total economic cost of all health impacts attributable to air pollution for the year was CAD $120 billion (2016) 

Recycling renewable energy sources, such as solar panels helps the country meet its climate commitments and be a climate leader 

Reducing landfill waste can create 10 times more jobs, contribute to social equity, and save billions of dollars normally spent on cleaning up pollution (2015: CAD $3.3 billion) 

Recycling PVs means that we can build locally without relying on mining, importations, or unsteady supply chains 

Investing in resource reclamation and recycling technologies can promote innovation and improve technology. 


1. Funding for large-scale PV recycling depots across Canada. 

2. Legally recognize all photovoltaics as e-waste, so that e-waste regulations apply to decommissioned PVs. 

3. Establish a clause when PVs are imported; i.e., that PVs should be of a certain standard in order to be imported. 


• Many solar panels are nearing the ends of their lives, but Canada lacks regulations and guidelines on the reuse or disposal of decommissioned panels. They end up in landfills. 

• Other countries, such as Belgium, have implemented policies that account the importance of recycling of PVs, yet Canada is still taking a harmful economic, environmental, and social hit from its current practices, which is only set to increase. 

2. Refrefrefrefrefereferefereferefe 
3. https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/en/data-analysis/canada-energy-future/2021/towards-net-zero.html 
4. https://ag.umass.edu/soil-plant-nutrient-testing-laboratory/fact-sheets/soil-lead-fact sheet#:~:text-Unfortunately%2C%20lead%20persists%20in%20soil,may%20be%20very%20unevenly%20distributed.  
5. https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements/2019/06/end-visit-statement-united-nations-special-rapporteur-toxics-and-human-rights?LangID=E&NewsID=24678