The Australian solar industry has grown exponentially over the past two decades, with more than 2m PV systems installed on residential rooftops. While PV solar systems are praised for its ability to provide a sustainable source of energy, there is a looming waste management issue that isn’t spoken about nearly as often.
Why You Should Recycle Your Old Solar Panels
Don't let your solar panels go to waste
What happens to the thousands of solar panels when they fail to perform or come to the end of their useful lives?
It’s estimated that 100,000 to 150,000 solar panels need replacing every year. By 2050, solar panel waste is projected to be over 900 thousand tons in Australia alone! It’s important for these panels to be recycled. Otherwise, the valuable resources that can be reused to make more solar panels will end up in the landfill and leach into the environment.
Solar panel recycling will help:
- conserve the supplies of the finite resources used to manufacture the panels
- provide the materials to be reused for producing new solar panels
Solar Panel Recycling with Ecoactiv
Ecoactiv is an advocate of clean energy. It is our mission to support the industry in taking back and recycling end-of-life solar panels across Australia. We have refined the solar panel recycling processes and have collection and dismantling centres in all major states, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.
Types of solar panels and equipment you can recycle
You can recycle any of the following types of panels and equipment with Ecoactiv: Monocrystalline Solar Panels, Polycrystalline Solar Panels, Thin-Film Solar Cells, Amorphous Silicon Solar Cell, Biohybrid Solar Cell, Solar Mounting Racks, Solar Mounting Frames, Inverters.
Not sure what type of solar panel you have? Don’t see what you want to recycle listed above? As long as it’s solar related equipment, we’ll help you recycle it!
Recycling condition of your solar panels or equipment
Depending on the solar panels you have, your system has a typical life expectancy of 20 to 25 years. The efficiency of your system will decline anywhere from 6 to 10 per cent in the first 10 years and slightly more the years’ after.
You can recycle your solar panel or solar equipment at any stage of life. Whether it’s in working condition or end of its life, we’re happy to take it off your hands.
Parts of your solar panel that can be recycled
Each solar panel has about 80 per cent of crystalline silicon that can be recovered through a refined recycling process. There are also other recyclable parts including electric junction boxes, glass and plastics, and aluminium frames and brackets.
What happens to your solar panels when you recycle with Ecoactiv?
Once we collect your solar panels, we deliver these to dedicated recycling facilities.
Solar Panel Recycling Process
Your solar panels will be shredded into a million smaller pieces. Breaking down the panels exposes all of the different components, making it easier for the recycler to detect and separate the individual components out in Stage 2.
The shredded pieces from your solar panels will now be put through a separation process.
Over 10 different detectors are used to detect and separate glass, copper wiring, circuit boards, steel, aluminium, plastics, cables and more.
These detectors all work in different ways – some use colour or pattern sensors, others use magnetic, eddy currents and advanced technologies to detect specific materials.
Separation of materials is the most important stage of the recycling process. Materials can only be recycled if the Stage is done accurately.
The resulting separated commodities are then returned to industry for manufacture of new items.