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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2021) . . Page.. 1972 ..

states and territories and the commonwealth in progressing and advocating on this issue.

While delivering on these items, the parliamentary and governing agreement will continue to take priority. I look forward to reporting back to the Assembly in more detail on the development of product stewardship schemes in February 2022, including the role that the ACT can play in their establishment.

I also look forward to reporting back on options and a time line for recycling schemes to minimise the amount of general electrical appliances, solar panels, inverters and large batteries going to landfill, as we continue to build a circular economy and encourage all Canberrans to manage their waste and their environment responsibly.

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (3.44): I support Ms Clay’s motion on recycling of electronic waste, particularly of solar panels, inverters, solar batteries and electric vehicle batteries. The ACT Greens very strongly support the use of renewable energy, but also understand that minimising waste requires a circular economy that keeps product components and materials in circulation for as long as possible, at their highest value.

The end of life of these relatively new energy technology products intersects with two of my portfolio areas: the environment, and sustainable building and construction. The cost of these products is rapidly falling, which allows more and more Canberrans to participate in the generation of renewable energy and to contribute to the territory’s climate change goals. With the rapid take-up of these products, the end-of-life disposal is a rapidly emerging issue.

There are two factors currently contributing to solar panels and inverters ending up in the waste stream. The first factor is that some of the earliest solar PV systems in the territory were installed in around 2008. Some of these systems are now starting to require repairs that cause owners to weigh up whether or not to repair the system or spend the money in upgrading to a new system that is larger and more efficient and has modern features such as battery storage or system monitoring. In some cases, a perfectly repairable system ends up being retired well before it has served out its expected 25-year life.

A second factor is that national standards for solar installations are changing every few years to incorporate best practice and our evolving requirements. To prevent older, non-compliant products from being used, all newly installed equipment must meet the current standards. This generally prevents older, second-hand equipment from being re-deployed to another house. This is understandable on one hand, but regrettable, as it prevents older equipment from being reused, thus extending its useful life and perhaps finding a home with someone who cannot afford a new system. Short of finding a niche use for these panels and inverters, they have limited potential for reuse. Given this, recycling is the next best option.

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