Solar Panel Recycling ☀️
Solar Panel Recycling ☀️: The invention of the solar panel really revolutionised the world for the better. Along with lessening our needs for non-renewable energy, it also offers other benefits such as reducing one’s electricity bills, creating job opportunities for people, and minimising grid security issues (i.e., lessening the occurrence of electrical issues like power interruptions or disasters).
But, what happens when a solar panel stops working? What if it experiences complications that damage it, therefore rendering it useless? Is there a way to dispose of it properly? Can we recycle them, instead? Read on to learn more.
A bit about Waster
Before I discuss solar panel recycling, let me share with you more information about Waster.
We here at Waster provide you with innovative solutions for your and your business’s waste management and recycling needs. Furthermore, we provide flexible, 30-day contracts instead of the typical lock-in contracts, which proves to be better.
Click on the blue button to learn more.
All about recycling solar panels
The popularity of using solar panels steadily increased in Australia. But, along with this, the waste that came along with it also increased in exponential heights.
As I have mentioned above, solar panels provide us with the ability to acquire a completely renewable and sustainable source of energy. Additionally, they also last a long time. Did you know that a well-maintained PV solar panel can last for about 20-40 years? Some also have survived for 40 years!
However, with this being good and all, what will happen to the immeasurable amounts of solar panels if left unchecked in the coming years? This will surely result in this e-waste filling up landfills in Australia. Furthermore, they contain toxic materials that can leach into the ground or water if not properly disposed of. What’s worse is the number of solar panels will only continue to increase in the following years to come.
It is projected that in 2050, Australia’s solar panel waste will total 900,000 tonnes. In fact, that is triple the amount (300,000 tonnes) projected in 2040! As alarming as this sounds, we do have a way to counter this: by recycling them.
Solar panel recycling is possible
This is due to it having components of glass, silicon, plastics, and aluminium, which can all be recovered and processed into new solar panels.
Why is solar panel recycling important?
There was a time wherein solar panel recycling was not required by law, therefore leading to environmental problems. But, all of this changed more than 8 years ago with the presentation of The Federal Product Stewardship Act. This provided a framework to follow in properly handling harmful products with harmful impacts, mainly focused on treating and disposal. As a result, different states chimed in and assessed what can be done.
Queensland assigned themselves to investigate batteries while Sustainability Victoria, representing Victoria, investigated the solar PV panels which also included the inverters and batteries. It is concluded that panels and inverters are recyclable, while batteries are handled by the Queensland-led stewardship approach.
For further information on the latter, recycling solar batteries involves sending them back to the manufacturer or contacting a licensed professional to either recycle or properly dispose of them for you.
Without their efforts in research, we would not have any idea on what to do with our damaged or destroyed solar panels.
Weighing in the benefits and avoiding the negative effects
In saying all of this, why do we need to recycle solar panels? Is there more into it?
Well, according to Watts Up With That, solar panels produce 300 times more toxic waster per unit of energy than do nuclear power plants. More specifically, they contain lead and cadmium, which are toxic material substances that can harm the environment.
That, along with the steadily increasing solar panel waste, is alarming. As a result, solar panel recycling should be one of the priorities.
Additionally, recycling solar panels here in Australia or any other parts of the world will help conserve the finite materials we have here on Earth used for energy. This will also ensure that new, recycled solar panels can be made so that no broken solar panels will go into a landfill.
So, it is of the utmost importance to recycle solar panels.
If you are how solar panel recycling works, the following are the steps, as per ECOACTIV :
Step 1: They are first collected by the appropriate companies that focus on waste management recycling.
Step 2: After the collection process, the facilities then shred them into millions of very tiny, fine pieces. By doing this, the recyclers will have an easier time extracting the different recyclable parts of a solar panel.
Step 3: Then, with the shredding part done, the shredded pieces from the solar panels now undergo a separation process. 10 different detectors separate glass, copper wiring, steel, aluminium, silver paste, silicon, and many more recyclables. There are different kinds of detectors that can separate these materials successfully such as detectors using colour or pattern sensors, magnetic technology, or any other advanced technologies depending on the materials.
Step 4: Lastly, recyclers provide the recycled materials to different industries for the manufacturing of new items.
To protect the environment from harmful e-waste of which PV solar panels are a part, Victoria has already implemented the e-waste ban last 1 July 2019.
Basically, what this does is prohibits e-waste like solar panels from entering landfills, therefore promoting recycling. But, did you know that South Australia and ACT already implemented a ban on certain types of electronic waste from going into a landfill more than a decade ago? It is only during recent times that all types of e-waste are banned.
Solar panel recycling: conclusion
To summarise, this blog strongly suggests the recycling of solar panels. Solar inverter recycling and solar panel recycling can turn them into newer materials used by people. Not only that, but we can also save up on energy while they still fully function.
In the following 2-3 decades, expect a boom in solar panel waste in Australia; solar panel recycling problems may arise due to the sheer amount of them, so it is best to prepare a framework in the future to follow in regards to this.
Watch this video to learn more about solar panel recycling.
Waster: things you need to know
If you’re looking for recycling bins, check our waste recycling shop and find the best deals in terms of pricing and services.