Recycling used solar panels
For a sustainable and circular economy
Used solar panels, we can do something with those! In recent years, solar panels have been installed on many homes in the Netherlands, combined with the construction of large solar energy parks. This is a great development towards a fossil-free society! Normally, a solar panel will last more than 20 years. However, we notice that many panels are discarded after only a few years. Together with Refurn, we focus on refurbishing and recycling solar panels.
Flash test establishes quality of used solar panels
Refurn specialises in checking and testing used solar panels for renewed deployment. They check every panel, clean it and carry out a special test. This test is a so-called flash test, that allows you to determine the quality of the panels at cell level. A discarded solar panel often turns out to be very suitable for reuse, because it still has a capacity of more than 90%, for example. Refurn is the only recycler in the Netherlands to be Cenelec certified for the reuse of solar panels.
From collection to installation
Every solar panel we collect is checked for its suitability for reuse. That’s easily 2,500 panels per year. We then deliver the suitable solar panels to Refurn. Refurn carries out repairs and cleans and inspects the panels. After inspection, Refurn draws up a report. This includes the age, condition and capacity of the panel. This report provides more information compared to new solar panels, which are usually tested on a random basis. This way, you know exactly what you are getting with each solar panel.
Solar panels with lower capacity also suitable
If a panel still has a capacity between 80 and 90%, it is very suitable for export and use abroad. For example, in countries where the cost of land is less, such as in Eastern Europe. Or where the sun shines more intensely and longer than in rainy Netherlands, such as in Southern Europe or Africa.
Refurn: social enterprise
Refurn is a social enterprise that offers people with poor job prospects opportunities to develop. Refurn also provides work-study programmes for Regional Training Centres and the Employee Insurance Agency. Read more
Stichting ZonNext: the orphanage for solar panels
We started Stichting ZonNext in conjunction with Sungivity. This is an online platform where we match discarded solar panels to a suitable applicant. For example, someone looking for used solar panels for his home or business. Or someone who wants to export the panels abroad. These used solar panels are a lot cheaper than new ones: the price mainly consists of the costs for cleaning, testing and transporting the panels. ZonNext also brings an applicant into contact with certified installation contractors for a reliable installation. Read more
Smoke detectors in the house?
Opt for a recycled smoke detector!
Most homes have one: a smoke detector. Just think about how much plastic and electronics that is. By using recycled smoke detectors and sustainable raw materials, we contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable environment. Henk Bos talks about our collaboration with Hemmink.
Reducing CO2 emissions with recycled smoke detectors
“Many companies wonder how they can limit CO2 emissions and contribute to a circular economy,” Henk explains, “You can by handing in your old smoke detectors to us, for example. We ensure that all materials are recycled as effectively as possible: reuse of components or complete parts and saving of raw materials. Because the production of new raw materials generates a lot of CO2 emissions.”
Complete sorting of disposable smoke detectors
Henk: “Because smoke detectors require complete sorting, you promote employment. And because the materials can be used again later, this labour automatically pays itself back in the long run.”
Together you achieve more
Hemmink is an organisation that supplies products, solutions and concepts to the (residential) construction industry. They work from the conviction that everyone has the right to a safe, comfortable and sustainable (living) environment. Hemmink is investigating how they can reuse parts of the old smoke detectors at housing associations. For example, by using the plastic in new installation clips, or by reusing the plastic casing. This way, we jointly contribute to a circular economy.
Housing corporation Talis: 23,000 disposable smoke detectors
One of the organisations that cooperates in the separate collection of smoke detectors is housing association Talis. Due to the new regulation in the Netherlands that prescribes the mandatory use of smoke detectors, the corporation purchased 23,000 new smoke detectors. And if you install new ones, it also means you have to dispose of many old smoke detectors. “We’re talking big volumes,” Johan Janssen of Talis explains. “Raw materials are not eternal and as an organisation, you want to handle them carefully. The initiative to collect the detectors separately is therefore exactly in line with our wishes when it comes to sustainable purchasing.”
Boxes for easy collection
Henk: “We like to make it as easy as possible for companies. That’s why we have made collection boxes available to collect the detectors. When one is full, we pick up the collection box and put an empty one in its place. So from an organisational point of view, it couldn’t be easier.”
Want to know more?
Would you like more information about the separate collection of smoke detectors or about the pilot project of Weee Netherlands and Hemmink? Read more on the site of Hanzestrohm
Refurbished charging stations
Recycling charging stations for a circular economy
More and more cars are driven electrically. And with the arrival of electric cars, the demand for charging points is growing throughout the Netherlands. Right now, there are already more than 100,000 charging stations and more are being added every day. With this, a new type of e-waste is growing: discarded charging stations. In collaboration with Refurn [Link: www.refurnbv.nl and Vattenfall, we focus on the recycling and reuse of charging stations.
Many discarded charging stations still as good as new
There are two reasons why discarded charging stations are often very suitable for refurbishing:
- Many charging stations are discarded because projects have been written off or entire areas are being renovated in a single sweep. In those instances, there’s hardly anything wrong with these charging stations, if anything at all.
- Is a charging station not working? It’s often removed and replaced with an entirely new one there and then. This is because there is a shortage of professionals in the workplace.
From discarded to refurbished charging stations
Once discarded charging stations arrive at our regional sorting centres, we hand them over to Refurn. Refurn employees then check what is wrong with the charging station and repair it. If repair is not possible, they remove the remaining good parts to be reused as replacement. As regards charging stations, Refurn works together with Vattenfall, who purchases the charging stations and parts for a new lease of life.
Read more about the charging stations at Vattenfall
Read more about our partnership with Refurn
White goods a new lease of life? Great idea!
Not everyone can afford a new refrigerator or washing machine. In that case, a high-quality refurbished machine offers a solution. It’s also a major contribution to a better environment, because raw materials and energy are saved. We’re happy to facilitate this type of reuse!
Like new with a small repair
Some of the devices we collect require only a small repair. This way, we can give good quality machines a new lease of life. This despite the high wage costs in the Netherlands for technical people.
Cooperation partner Holland Circulair
Our partner Holland Circulair operates a repair and testing facility for white goods in Boxtel. Expertly trained people ensure that previously discarded equipment starts a new life: refrigerators, washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers.
The social and circular economy in practice
Thrift shops or white goods outlets then go on to sell the equipment. This way, refurbished devices find a new owner, who get their hands on a high-quality machine for a modest price.
Dexterity promotes reuse
There is at least one in every living room: a television. But not everyone can afford a new set. In that case, a high-quality refurbished television offers a solution. It’s also a major contribution to a better environment, because raw materials and energy are saved. We’re happy to facilitate this type of reuse!
Like new with a small repair
Some of the televisions we collect require only a small repair. Often only a capacitor on the printed circuit board in the television has blown. In that case, replacing this capacitor suffices. This way, we can give good quality devices a new lease of life. This despite the high wage costs in the Netherlands for technical people.
Cooperation partner Kristal Recycling
Our partner Kristal Recycling specialises in the professional repair of televisions. Thanks to his technical training, owner Besmellah Rahimi can often easily find out where the problems in a device have arisen.
Devices only have a limited number of weak parts that often break. By testing and replacing them, 80% of devices can be used again.Besmalla Rahimi - eigenaar Kristal Recycling
The circular economy in practice
If a repair is not possible, the printed circuit board can often be used to repair another one. And other parts are sold to repair shops in the Netherlands and abroad. Kristal supplies refurbished televisions to thrift shops and other outlets.
Talking to Vincent and Jeroen from cooperation partner Refurn
Refurn is a company we work very closely with. In fact, we are largely in the same building! Refurn sorts municipal e-waste and prepares, among other things, central heating boilers and solar panels for reuse. In this article, you can read how Refurn is making a positive impact as a reuse and recycling company. Vincent de Graaf, Managing Director, will show you around.
Vincent: “With the regional sorting centre right next door and sharing the same location as Weee Netherlands, we are exactly in the right place! This is where the equipment we want to reuse is collected. And in the sorting centre, we select exactly those pieces of electrical equipment and parts that are of interest to us. We sort and disassemble the electronics in the sorting centre.” Vincent talks enthusiastically about his fast-growing company and the social business character to which he is personally committed. “For us, money is a means to have the greatest possible positive impact on the world around us, without jeopardising our own survival.”
Several people are at work. Some are sorting electrical appliances, others are working on technology and still others are driving forklifts with boxes full of old electronics. Vincent talks about his employees: “We think it’s important to create work for people who find it difficult to find work on their own. Such as Wajong scheme and sheltered workshop employees. The collection and sorting work is ideal for setting up workplaces for them.”
Responsible processing of e-waste
Vincent: “In building engineering, parts, water heaters and central heating boilers are replaced on regular basis. The old parts are largely thrown away and heaters and boilers often find their way to the scrap metal dealer. Reusable products or components may therefore be lost. And with that, the responsible processing of e-waste. That’s unnecessary and bad for our environment, so we’re doing something about it!”
Employee Jeroen explains proudly
We cross over to the building opposite, the Renewal Centre. Jeroen is working at the boiler repair shop. He has working as a technical foreman at Refurn since 2018. Jeroen operates the forklift truck and just put a pallet full of solar panels in the right place. He then takes a moment to talk about his work: “We always process water heaters, geysers and central heating boilers under the auspices of CENELEC certification. That’s the legal quality standard. That way, you can be sure that we’re doing our job well.” Full of pride: “We also know exactly where the materials are, as we keep a complete record.”
Collaboration with sustainable and socially responsible companies
Refurn mainly focuses on installation contractors that engage with the circular economy. For example, they play an important role in the reuse of solar panels, boilers and charging stations. (link to case ketel voor evene / case solar panels / case charging stations) Refurn not only works with us, but also with Vattenval and Eneco. Vincent: “They too believe it’s important that we work sustainably and that we look after people with poor job prospects. This is evidenced not only in daily practice, but also by our PSO certification at level 3, the highest level.”
Because an old central heating boiler can still heat
Ketel voor Even
With many central heating boilers that we collect, only a single part is broken or worn. Not doing anything with it would be a waste! And as a result of the energy transition, we expect the number of old central heating boilers we get in will only increase in the years to come. In collaboration with Refurn and MrServitization, we developed the ‘Ketel voor Even’ concept. This provides an ideal temporary boiler for housing associations or consumers if, for example, you are making the transition to a gas-free home. This way you prevent waste and you still have a good boiler. Although it’s only temporary.
Step 1: Collect the old boiler
We check every discarded boiler that comes in. Is the boiler still good enough to refurbish? In that case, we keep it separate for the Ketel voor Even scheme. In our choice, we do take into account that the boiler is of such a quality that it can still last for a while.
Step 2: Refurn refurbishes boilers and is a sheltered employer
Refurn, our cooperation partner, refurbishes the central heating boiler. Refurn creates workplaces for people with poor job prospects and also organises entry-level training for building engineering. This way, Refurn gives people who have an affinity with technology an opportunity to gain work experience. At Refurn, the social contribution is key.
Step 3: Local installer, always close
We work with local, certified installers. They are familiar with your current situation and are able to think along about your future situation: off gas. The Ketel voor Even scheme prevents waste in getting there. Our affiliated installers like to go that extra mile.
Step 4: Temporary boiler, value for money
What we supply through our partners is simple: a working central heating boiler. No hassle and professionally. The main driver behind the Ketel voor Even scheme is the prevention of waste. Our overhaul line does not have the scale of a producer of central heating boilers, but we are working hard to make the world a better place. And that doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg!
Ketel voor Even:
the temporary solution to a natural gas-free home!
You don’t scrap a car that is 2 or 3 years old, so why would you a boiler? We often receive discarded boilers, which are still working fine. For example, from rented properties that switch to district heating. It’s our aim to bring all suitable boilers back onto the market. This way, you can avoid a lot of e-waste.Vincent de Graaf - Owner Refurn
Rataplan: the best and largest thrift shop chain
Rataplan is a thrift shop chain with dozens of shops in the provinces of North Holland, South Holland, Gelderland and Flevoland. This makes it the largest chain in the Netherlands. And, according to them, the best! It’s an independent, non-profit foundation that aims to create opportunities for both people and the environment. We enjoy working with them.
Not a mile too far
Together with Rataplan, we developed an internal collection network for all e-waste. Rataplan takes care of the internal transport: they collect the e-waste at their smaller thrift shops on their trips to the main branches. On the way back, they then have room for new second-hand items to fill their shop. We then take care of the removal of all e-waste from their main branches to the regional sorting centre. This way, we avoid many unnecessary transport kilometres, while the collection is organised well.
Thrift shops are an important link in the electronics chain…
Many thrift shops in a municipality are, beside the recycling centres, the most important collection point for discarded goods. In some municipalities, they have even taken over the role of collection points. We then collect the discarded appliances in our collection containers.
… also as a repairer and seller of refurbished appliances
Often, a device can still be reused if you know how to repair it. The thrift shop takes in old appliances and assesses which ones qualify for reuse. Many thrift shops have small repair departments, where they perform basic repairs on devices. They often also facilitate the local branch of Repair Cafe to facilitate residents’ access to repairs. In addition, through our recycling partners, we can supply refurbished appliances for sale. This way, we jointly contribute to a circular economy. Would you like to know more about our recycling partners and refurbished appliances? Read more