From pv magazine’s global site.
Italy’s Carabinieri Command for the Protection of the Environment has seized a waste treatment plant near Catania, in Sicily, on the suspicion that panels sent there for recycling were instead smuggled to African and Middle Eastern markets.
The Ministry of the Environment announced that thousands of panels sent for recycling from solar plants in Italy were instead re-badged with false labels and exported to other markets. The racket was uncovered by the carabinieri’s Operation BlackSun. “About 60 tons of solar panels were also found on which investigations will be conducted to verify the regularity of the storage, treatment and recovery operations,” the ministry added.
The owner of the recycling plant, whose name was not released, was arrested on January 23 on an arrest warrant issued by the investigating magistrate of the Perugia court on charges of being one of the main perpetrators of a criminal association aimed at illicit cross-border trafficking of waste, money laundering, counterfeiting, alteration or use of trademarks and other illegal conduct, the Italian government said.
Senegal, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Turkey and Syria
The carabinieri said counterfeited panels were smuggled to Senegal, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Turkey and Syria.
Bertrand Lempkowicz of the PV Cycle recycling organization said the EU’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive authorizes re-use of modules and a lack of legal detail in some territories can leave loopholes which can be exploited by recycling entities. “It is obvious that PV Cycle does not support this practice, simply [that] there are no guidelines strictly defining what is a second-hand photovoltaic panel or a re-used panel,” Lempkowicz told pv magazine. “When is a panel considered waste or second hand? The vagueness of this question is too great.”
EU electronic waste regulation requires all manufacturers supplying products to the bloc to finance collection and recycling of end-of-life products. Solar panels were added to the scope of the WEEE directive in 2012.
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I’m failing to see why what they did, besides being illegal, is unethical. Did they essentially commit fraud against their various buyers around Africa by selling them waste marketed as working PV panels? Why should it be illegal to sell down South?
Why not provide panels, with useful life left, to areas that could not otherwise obtain or afford new. Reduce first, reuse second, recycle third! As long as proper disclosure is made Go For It! And let the market decide. Italy isn’t known as a country that has a virtuous justice system, you can almost smell the corruption of how sellers of new panels are leading a charge against reuse.
So are these countries going to make new panels with the material??? Follow up reporting needed…More the power to these countries as they are more willing to recycle them, then the so called ‘first world nations’!!!
Reuse is the highest form of recycling!
No problem with reselling used panels as long as they are marked as such and preferably tested for output. Wish government Gestapo tactics could be saved for the criminal welfare cases of Fossil Fuels Inc.
I’m interested in seeing how this story continues to develop. Either the agreements between the “recycler” and the manufacturer specified they needed to be securely destroyed (e.g. recycled), or they are exporting waste under the guise of reuse. There are legitimate applications for the redeployment of end-of-life modules in the international marketplace, but that’s vastly different from shipping garbage to developing nations.
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