Solar Panel Recycling in Australia

Solar Panel Recycling in Australia With the solar industry in Australia booming, how much of it will end up in landfill? With typical solar product life spans of around 20 years,  potentially all solar panels and inverters could end up there as they approach the end of their product life span.

Without any laws regulating waste from the solar industry in the future it has been predicted by experts, that there could be 1,500 kilotons of solar industry waste by 2050. With this being forecasted, there is clearly an evident urgent need for solar industry recycling facilities. 

If the financial cost of recycling is higher than the cost of landfill, it doesn’t provide much incentive for solar product recycling. Furthermore, with the value of recovered materials being smaller than the original, there is low interest in recycling. According to PV Magazine Australia, the presence of heavy metals, such as lead and tin, if this waste is managed poorly, we could be on track for another recycling crisis.

They say a potential time bomb could present itself as an opportunity, however, if the global EV industry showed an interest in the recovered solar products. Lead and tin, if leached into soil and groundwater cause health and environmental concerns, while copper, silver, and silicon present a value opportunity if recovered efficiently. So, the landfill option should be fully replaced with recycling to prevent environmental pollution and retrieve the valuable materials present in the panel. To read more click here.

Reclaim PV Recycling in Adelaide is a facility in Australia that recycles solar panels recycling more than 50,000 solar panels a year. They charge for their services and do not accept the most toxic panels. They are expanding their facilities with a new recycling site at Lonsdale, South Australia and have recently put the call out for end-of-life solar panels from anywhere in Australia.

Another new company  who are upcycling solar panels is a Melbourne-based entity called Elecsome, which late last year won a federal government grant to set up its own “first of its kind” solar panel upcycling plant.

At SmartConsult, we hope to see many more emerge and a national program is rolled out so we can plan for a greener future. 

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