Publication Date

Spring 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies


Dustin Mulvaney


Circular Economy, Extended Producer Responsibility, Geographic Information System, Photovoltaic Module, Sustainability, Waste Management

Subject Areas

Environmental studies; Geographic information science and geodesy; Industrial engineering


Electronic waste issues impact humans and the environment, primarily because most industrial designs have not considered the impact of products when they reach their end-of-life (EOL) stage. This study focuses on photovoltaic (PV) modules that are widely installed in California residential properties. While PV modules do not generate waste while operating, they will become waste at the end of their expected lifespan of 25 to 40 years. Thus, it is important to identify PV waste management strategies before the materials in the modules become a discard problem. In California, despite hazardous materials that are used in the production of PV modules, there has been no legislative or regulatory action related to PV waste. As a result, the management options and destinations for PV waste are not clear. This study projects the PV waste growth in California, investigates PV waste management, and includes stakeholders’ perspectives on the application of extended producer responsibility (EPR) for PV modules. It also estimates the optimal locations for collecting PV waste in the San Francisco Bay Area, which would be an integral action to close the open loop that exists between production and discarding of EOL products. The results of this study revealed that the regulation should be adaptable and may be the key factor to affect the whole value chain of the material loop in the environment. The developed model in this study could be used as a reference in the future to develop a PV waste collection system in California.