If there is no legal requirement for recycling, companies that want to recycle their panels won‘t be able to justify recycling investments to shareholders or stakeholders.
Even when a company wants to do the “right thing” and develop a recycling program for their panels, they might not be able to justify the cost of such a program to shareholders. If the environmental leaders within the company can’t prove that an investment in recycling will be profitable to shareholders, then those leaders will have less incentive to come forward and make a case for designing products so that they can be easily recycled.
For example, a representative from a computer manufacturer once told me a discouraging story about a situation at his company. He said that the designers worked with recyclers and found that if they simply added a $1.25 component part to the new line of printers it would make the printer easier to disassemble and cheaper to recycle. The design team was told not to include the part because there was no guarantee that the printer would be recycled, so the added cost could not be justified. If there would have been a law in place, the $1.25 component could have saved money for the company in the long run.
If there is a system in place to ensure that solar panels that are designed today will be recycled, solar companies that are taking action to protect the environment will have the full support of their shareholders and law.