15 November 2023

Eurobodalla sparkies and fabricators come up with bright idea for used solar panels

| Zoe Cartwright
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Council staff and RfR volunteers at the drop-off point at Moruya Transfer Station.

Council staff and RfR volunteers at the drop-off point at Moruya Transfer Station. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

It’s not easy being green – even environmentally friendly items like solar panels have a limited life.

To keep them out of landfill, Eurobodalla Shire Council and Repurposing for Resilience (RfR) have set up a community solar panel reuse centre at Moruya Transfer Station.

RfR is a local volunteer group made up of electricians, engineers and fabricators who use their skills and creativity to reinvigorate secondhand solar panels.

Members of the not-for-profit have found imaginative uses for used solar panels for years, and now the council is supporting the volunteers’ efforts.

The council’s waste staff are stockpiling and dropping off solar panels while RfR has set up a new workshop.

READ ALSO From dog kennels to picnic tables, Eurobodalla innovators lead the charge to recycle and repurpose solar panels

The council’s waste coordinator Evan Brooks said there was a free drop-off point at Moruya Transfer station, however fees applied at Surf Beach and Brou facilities.

“Solar panels, inverters, racking and cable can be dropped off for free at the reuse centre at Moruya Transfer Station,” Mr Brooks said.

“There is the usual $10 fee if you drop them at Surf Beach or Brou waste facilities.”

Mr Brooks said RfR approached council to intercept used solar panels, wanting to keep them local and out of landfill.

“Instead of sending them to Sydney to be stripped and recycled, we bundle them up and take them to the reuse centre,” Mr Brooks said.

READ ALSO Fight the war on waste in style at Moruya markets

RfR coordinator Lisa Cornthwaite said the team would clean, test and grade the solar equipment.

“We process and test equipment to make it available to our community either through gifting it to households in need or making it more affordable through resale,” Ms Cornthwaite said.

“By returning it to its use stream with warranty we are instilling confidence in a secondhand market.

“We’re seeing so many households that are replacing solar panels that still have years left in their lifecycle.”

Ms Cornthwaite said solar panels no longer fit for their intended use would be repurposed or upcycled into things such as USB charging tables, building cladding, outdoor furniture, dog kennels and garden beds.

“We want to make a positive impact, making sure solar panels and components get the most of their working life, before they’re broken down for recycled materials,” she said.

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