GOGLA’s E-Waste Working Group is now the Circularity Working Group – a move that reflects the ambition and innovations of the off-grid solar industry to optimise circular processes to reduce their footprint and maximise social, economic, and environmental impact
E-waste is the fastest growing domestic waste stream in the world, with an estimated 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste generated in 2019 and a material value of USD$57 billion. Circular systems are key to controlling this growth and harnessing the value of materials already in circulation through repair, re-use and refurbishment.
Although off-grid solar products make up just a small proportion of global e-waste, the industry now serves more than 420 million people worldwide and continues to grow. If business as usual growth returns after the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 863 million people will be served by the sector by 2030. Reaching this number of people will mean many more products entering the market. Fortunately, off-grid solar products have come a long way over the last few years, supported by technological advances and the increasing adoption of VeraSol quality standards – with higher quality outputs and increasingly longer lifespans. Further, more and more companies are also implementing e-waste management processes.
The off-grid solar industry has already made strides in Circularity
In recent years, companies, investors, and other stakeholders have been increasingly focused on resource efficiency and optimisation of product-lifecycle; from design and manufacture to use-period and end-of-life. Alongside substantial efforts to better manage e-waste, we are seeing the emergence of many new models for circularity in the industry, including end-of-life take-back schemes, enhanced repairability, second-life batteries, and market development for refurbished products.
In markets where e-waste infrastructure and regulations are yet to reach maturity, the commendable efforts and innovations seen in the off-grid sector – such as those supported by the Global LEAP Solar E-waste Challenge – demonstrate the ambition in the industry to reduce e-waste by building effective circular systems.
Circularity is an opportunity for stakeholders in the off-grid solar sector
Circularity is win-win for consumers, businesses, and the environment. It creates less waste overall, increases value for customers, stimulates the local economy and protects brand reputation:
Our focus on circularity reflects the strengths within the industry but recognises that there is still more to do. We aim to further support companies in this area by providing tools and knowledge, fostering collaboration and cooperation, and helping to build sector-wide capacity. Solid foundations have been laid so far, but companies will require continued support to de-risk innovative circular models and technology, promote the development of regional infrastructure and ensure effective, well thought-out regulations.