Recycling contributions will go up in 2023. Below you can find background information and answers to frequently asked questions. Is your question not listed here? Feel free to email us.

Level playing field and freeriding

It is important to the OPEN Foundation that all importers/producers contribute in a fair way to the costs of recycling. That is why we work hard to create a level playing field. Ideally, a level playing field is enforced ‘at the front end’. This is achieved when, in practice, it has become exceedingly difficult to sell solar panels without paying for recycling.

Project developers may finance solar farms using a bank loan. With these projects, the level playing field is already enforced on the front end. In fact, banks can offer lower interest rates based on the green scheme. As of the summer of 2022, there is an additional requirement to use this green scheme; the importer/producer must be registered with OPEN Foundation. You can find the list of registered importers/producers here.

The OPEN Foundation also wants to create and maintain a level the playing field for the private segment. This can be done by making the disposal contribution visible as a separate invoice line on the invoice to your customer. Making this contribution visible on the invoices creates more transparency in the chain. This makes enforcement and detection a lot easier. This new methodology is currently under development.

Finally, the OPEN Foundation asked the specialized research agency DNE Research to map the current players (producers/ importers) for solar panels. This provided OPEN Foundation with a list of companies that are not (yet) registered. Companies that are not registered but can be assumed to put solar panels (or other devices) on the market are checked separately. These companies will be addressed if necessary. If these companies still do not fulfill their obligations, the OPEN Foundation will contact these companies, which may eventually lead to penalties or lawsuits if necessary.

The OPEN Foundation has already contracted a consulting firm to actively track down free riders, so that the collection system is collectively financed. This is how the OPEN Foundation maintains a level playing field so that all actors contribute equally to fulfill producer responsibility.

Guarantee Fund

The costs occurring in a year are divided among all new the solar panels put on the market in the same year as the costs occur. In technical terms, this is called a pay-as-you-go system. Each panel sold thus contributes to the recycling of the waste generated in the same year.

Currently there are few costs because only small amounts of solar panels are discarded and at the same time many more new solar panels are sold. Since the waste management contribution fee is linked to the sales, the fee can fluctuate greatly when sales increase or decrease. There is no safeguard for situations when discards increase unexpectedly, or sales fall short of expectations.

In a few years time, increasingly amounts of waste streams of solar panels are expected. We will then face rapid and unpredictable increases in recycling costs. Moreover, legislators are demanding a “guarantee” to ensure that there will be enough funds available to recycle discarded solar panels in the future. Therefore, the way we pay for recycling must be changed. The market has been asked what frameworks should apply to a solar panel guarantee fund. The OPEN Foundation’s guarantee fund will be based on these frameworks. The OPEN Foundation is setting up a guarantee fund to pay for the total amount of waste (to be collected and processed) for the next 5 years.

One of the preconditions that the market has given is that price increases are published well in advance. To meet this precondition, the price increase will take effect as of July 1, 2023. This gives the market more than 6 months to adjust to the price increase.

In principle, this rate applies until 2025, providing clarity about the rates for the coming years. The OPEN Foundation will use this time to further prepare the setup of the guarantee fund. The coordination with the tax authorities is part of this and of course a good fund management with a sound governance structure. OPEN foundation will coordinate this with Holland Solar and ZRN.

Questions and Answers

Why is this increase necessary?
Due to the small amount of solar panel waste that is discarded until now, the cost of recycling has been very low. In the coming years, many solar panels will enter the waste stream. We will then face rapid and unpredictable increases in the cost of recycling. Legislators demand certainty that there will be a sufficient funding available to cover the cost of recycling in the future. That is why a guarantee fund is needed. The OPEN Foundation fund is based on frameworks agreed with the market and will be set up in 2023. The cost increase is mainly driven by the guarantee fund.

How was this contribution established?
The contribution is determined by dividing the costs in a fiscal year over the expected panels sold in the same fiscal year (2023). These costs can be broken down into two parts. Firstly, the normal costs OPEN must pay for to recycle the solar panel waste in 2023. Secondly there are the costs to create the guarantee fund. The OPEN Foundation’s guarantee fund aims to prevent extreme, unpredictable rate increases in the future. The OPEN Foundation provides this guarantee by setting up a fund to pay for the total amount of solar panel waste (to be collected and processed) for the next 5 years. This fund meets the frameworks that ZRN has agreed with the market.

How is the level playing field ensured?
The OPEN Foundation believes it is important that all importers/producers contribute fairly to the cost of recycling. Therefore, it is working hard to ensure a level playing field.

We have also conducted research (DNE Research) showing that the level playing field is within reach. In the coming months OPEN will take additional steps. The most important steps are to identify and write to freeriders, which may eventually lead to penalties or lawsuits if necessary. This is needed to reduce costs for our active participants and prevent unfair competition. We already have appointed a research firm to this end to track down and write to freeriders and take follow-up action if necessary. At the same time, OPEN is committed to enforcing the level playing field when possible through subsidy legislation. Finally, OPEN is exploring options for a visible disposal fee for solar panels.

Why is the effective date July 1, 2023?
One of the conditions that the market has issued for the guarantee fund is that price increases be announced well in advance. This gives the market time to prepare. To comply with this request, the OPEN Foundation has set the starting date of the new contribution on the first of July 2023.

Despite the preparation time, I cannot pass on the contribution. How should I manage this?
Parties have until July 1 to prepare for the adjusted contribution. The OPEN Foundation assumes that the solar panels whose sales contract was concluded before November 30, 2022 will also be put on the market before July 1. This is the case if the invoice date of the panels is before July 1, 2023. If there is an extreme situation in which the contract is already concluded before November 30, 2022, but the first invoice can only be sent after July 1, the OPEN Foundation asks you to seek contact through email. In extreme cases, depending on the situation, the OPEN Foundation may decide to grant leniency. The OPEN Foundation reserves all rights in this case.

Which rate applies to inverters?
The collection and recycling of inverters has a different cost structure than solar panels. Therefore, starting as of the first of July 2023 a different rate will apply for inverters than for solar panels. As of July 1, the inverter rate will be: €30 per ton (for devices < 50 cm) and €20 per ton (for devices larger than 50 cm). Until the first of July 2023 inverters are subject to the same low rate as solar panels.

What is the governance of the guarantee fund?
The OPEN Foundation is still preparing the guarantee fund. This will involve a thorough governance structure. This governance will be coordinated with ZRN and Holland Solar.

How do I determine the date of the POM / What is the date of ‘putting solar panels on the market’?
In practice, the invoice date of the panels sold is used for this purpose.

What can we expect for next years’ contribution?
In calculating the contribution for 2023, the OPEN Foundation’s approach has been to keep this rate the same for the next few years (’23 – ’25). For the period after 2025, the information known at the end of 2024 regarding put-on-market figures, discarding and collection and processing costs will be taken into consideration for 2026 and beyond.

As an end user, how will I know that the contribution was paid?
Solar panels used in large-scale projects are often imported by contractor themselves. You can check for these projects if the contribution has been paid by your supplier by checking with the OPEN Foundation if this supplier is affiliated with OPEN. View the list here. If your supplier is registered in this list, then you can assume that payments have been made for your project.

For solar panels used in consumer systems, verifying whether the contribution has been paid is more difficult. Therefore, the OPEN Foundation is preparing the possibility of a visible disposal contribution, which will then be visible on the invoice. The disposal contribution is expected to be introduced in mid-2023. As soon as more information is available, it will be shared.

What is paid for by the disposal fee?
The disposal fee ensures that solar panel waste of the Netherlands is properly recycled. The fee covers the cost of transporting and recycling the waste in 2023, including organizational costs. The fee also covers the build-up of a guarantee fund. The guarantee fund covers fluctuations in sales and waste production. A guarantee fund addresses these uncertainties. A guarantee fund fulfills the WEEE Regulation, which requires a guarantee for the producer responsibility. The contribution for 2023 will allow OPEN to start up this guarantee fund and ensure more stable and predictable tariffs.