The waste management contribution for solar panels will increase in 2023. Below is the background and frequently asked questions. If your question is not listed, please feel free to email us.

Level playing field and freeriding

Stichting OPEN considers it important that all importers/producers contribute fairly to the costs of recycling. Therefore, it works hard to create a level playing field. Ideally, a level playing field is enforced “upfront.” This is the case if it is very difficult in practice to sell solar panels without contributing to recycling.

For solar parks financed off-balance, the project developer uses a bank loan. In these projects, the level playing field is already enforced upfront. Banks can offer lower interest rates based on the green scheme. Since the summer of 2022, an additional requirement has been introduced to qualify for this green scheme: the importer/producer must be registered with Stichting OPEN. And registered importers/producers contribute to recycling. View the list here.

Stichting OPEN is also working on a level playing field for the private segment. This can be achieved by making the removal contribution visible as a separate invoice item on the invoice to your customer. By making this contribution visible on invoices, more transparency is created in the chain. This makes enforcement and detection much easier. This new methodology is currently being developed.

Finally, Stichting OPEN has asked the specialized research firm DNE Research to map out the playing field for solar panels. With this, Stichting OPEN has compiled a list of companies that have not yet been registered. Companies that are not registered but can reasonably be assumed to be putting solar panels (or other devices) on the market will be checked separately. These companies will be contacted if necessary. If these companies still fail to meet their obligations, Stichting OPEN will ultimately call in the inspectorate to enforce this.

Stichting OPEN has already contracted an advisory firm to actively identify freeriders, so that the collection system is collectively financed. This ensures that a level playing field is maintained so that all actors contribute equally to fulfilling producer responsibility.

Guarantee Fund

At present, we distribute the costs of recycling solar panels annually over the solar panels put on the market. Each panel sold contributes to the recycling of the waste generated in the same year. In technical terms, this is called the transfer system.

In the current market, with little solar panel waste, this system does not work well because there is still no stability, and the rates can fluctuate. After all, they depend on the “new” panels that are the cost carriers for the discarded panels, the cost causers. Both the old and new panels are currently subject to fluctuations, which can result in the rate varying significantly from year to year.

In a few years, the large waste stream of solar panels will start. We will then face rapid and unpredictable increases in recycling costs. In addition, the legislator requires a ‘guarantee’ to ensure that there is sufficient money for recycling in the future. Therefore, the way we pay for recycling needs to be overhauled. That is why the market has been asked to define the framework for a solar panel guarantee fund. The guarantee fund of Stichting OPEN will be based on these frameworks. Stichting OPEN will set up a guarantee fund to pay for the total amount of waste (to be collected and processed) for the next five years.

One of the conditions that the market has imposed on Stichting OPEN is that it announces its tariff price increases well in advance. To meet this requirement, the price increase will take effect on July 1, 2023, giving the market more than six months to adjust to the price increase.

In principle, this rate will apply until 2025, providing clarity on the rates for the coming years. Stichting OPEN will use this time to further prepare for the design of the guarantee fund. Coordination with the tax authorities is part of this process. However, the focus in the coming period will mainly be on the design of a sound fund management structure with a robust governance, which will be coordinated with Holland Solar and ZRN.

Questions and Answers

Why is this increase necessary?

Because there has been relatively little solar panel waste so far, recycling costs have been very low in recent years. However, in a few years, the large waste stream of solar panels will begin. We will then be dealing with rapid and unpredictable increases in recycling costs. This is something we want to avoid. In addition, the legislator requires certainty that there will be sufficient funds for future recycling costs. That is why a guarantee fund is needed. The fund of Stichting OPEN is based on market-aligned frameworks and will be established in 2023. This fund leads to the cost increase.

How was this rate established?

The rate is determined by dividing the costs in a financial year by the expected panels sold in the same financial year (2023). These costs can be roughly divided into two parts. Firstly, the normal costs that Stichting OPEN must incur to recycle the solar panel waste of 2023. Secondly, there are the costs for the guarantee fund. The guarantee fund of Stichting OPEN aims to prevent extreme and unpredictable rate increases in the future. Stichting OPEN provides this guarantee by establishing a fund that can pay for the total amount of waste (to be collected and processed) of the next 5 years. This fund meets the frameworks agreed between ZRN and the market.

How is a level playing field ensured?

Stichting OPEN considers it important that all importers/ producers contribute fairly to the recycling costs. Therefore, it works hard to create a level playing field. For example, based on independent research by DNE Research, Stichting OPEN has obtained lists of companies that are also likely to have to contribute. These companies are currently being contacted, just as this is happening for other producers. It is important that active participants are not burdened by free-riders who shirk their responsibilities. At the same time, OPEN is working to enforce a level playing field through subsidy legislation, among other things. Finally, OPEN is exploring the possibilities for a visible waste management contribution for solar panels.

Why is the effective date July 1, 2023?

One of the conditions that the market has set for the guarantee is that price increases are announced well in advance so that the market has time to prepare. To comply with this, Stichting OPEN has set the effective date for July 1.

Despite the preparation time, I cannot pass on the contribution. How should I deal with this?

Parties have until July 1st to prepare for the adjusted rates. Stichting OPEN assumes that the solar panels for which the sales contract was concluded before November 30th, 2022 will also be brought to the market before July 1st. This is the case if the invoice date of the panels is before July 1st, 2023. If an extreme situation arises in which the contract was concluded before November 30th, 2022, but the first invoice can only be sent after July 1st, Stichting OPEN asks you to email us about this. In extreme cases, depending on the situation, Stichting OPEN may decide to grant leniency. Stichting OPEN reserves all rights in this regard.

What rate will apply to inverters?

The collection and recycling of inverters have a different cost structure from that of solar panels. Therefore, as of July 1st, a different rate will apply to inverters than to solar panels. The inverter rate will be €30 per ton (for devices < 50 cm) and €20 per ton (for devices larger than 50 cm) as of July 1st. Until July 1st, the same low rate as for solar panels will apply to inverters.

 How is the governance of the guarantee fund regulated?

Stichting OPEN is still preparing the guarantee fund, with good governance being ensured. This governance will be coordinated with ZRN and Holland Solar.

How do I determine the moment of POM / What is the moment of ‘placing on the market’ of solar panels?

In practice, the invoice date of the sold panels is used for this purpose.

What can we expect for the rates in the coming years?

When calculating this rate, Stichting OPEN’s approach was to keep this rate the same in the coming years (’23 – ’25). For the period after 2025, the information available at the end of 2024 regarding put-on-market figures, disposal, and collection and processing costs will be taken into consideration for 2026 and beyond.

How do I, as an end customer, know that the fee has been paid?

Solar panels used in large-scale projects are often imported by the contractor themselves. You can check whether your supplier has paid the fee for your project by inquiring with Stichting OPEN whether this supplier is affiliated with OPEN. Check here for the list. If your supplier is registered here, you can assume that the fee has been paid for your project.

For solar panels used in consumer systems, this is more difficult to determine. Therefore, Stichting OPEN is preparing to use a visible disposal contribution that will be visible on the invoice. The expectation is that this contribution will be introduced in mid-2023. Once more information is available, it will be shared.

What is paid from the waste management fee?

The waste management fee ensures that solar panel waste in the Netherlands is properly recycled. The rate covers the costs of transporting and recycling the waste in 2023, including organizational costs. If the amount of waste increases, the costs that must be passed on to the cost bearers, namely the new solar panels, will increase. Both “more” waste and “less” sales can lead to tariff changes, even if the processing costs per panel remain the same. This leads to a lot of uncertainty regarding financing. This uncertainty is addressed with a guarantee fund. With this setup, the AEEA Regulation, which requires assurance regarding Producer Responsibility, is fulfilled. The 2023 rate is also intended to start up this guarantee fund and ensure more stable and predictable rates.