PV Disposal Recycling

When solar panels, which typically have a lifespan of 20 years, reach the end of their lives and become a waste stream, they must be managed safely.  We have 10 international recycling facility and each can process up to 100,000 pounds of equipment every day.  Our renewable tech PV recycle solutions will fit every need and budget. Our clients benefit from increased value from their end-of-life products, complete compliance at the state, federal, and global level, and total brand protection from the perils of an open gray market.

Disposal of decommissioned solar panels in regular landfills is “not recommended in case modules break and toxic materials leach into the soil.” But where do most decommissioned panels go? Landfills.

Solutions include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Equipment Value Recovery
  • Decommissioning Planning
  • Returns Management
  • Recycling PV Cells, Batteries, Inverters, and More

Panel End-of-Life Management

In the U.S., end-of-life disposal of solar products is governed by the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), as well as state policies in some situations. RCRA separates waste into hazardous (not accepted at ordinary landfill) and solid waste (generally accepted at ordinary landfill) based on a series of rules. According to RCRA, the way to determine if a PV panel is classified as hazardous waste is the Toxic Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) test.

The EPA test is designed to simulate landfill disposal and determine the risk of hazardous substances leaching out of the landfill. Multiple sources report that most modern PV panels (both crystalline silicon and cadmium telluride) pass the TCLP test. Some studies found that some older (1990s) crystalline silicon panels, and perhaps some newer crystalline silicon panels (specifics are not given about vintage of panels tested), do not pass the lead (Pb) leachate limits in the TCLP test. To put the volume of PV waste into perspective, consider that by 2050, when PV systems installed in 2020 will reach the end of their lives, It is estimated that the global annual PV panel waste tonnage will be 10% of the 2014 global e-waste tonnage.

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