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End-of-life PV panel recycling

Circular Solar

As solar power generation continues to increase across Australia, Scipher is investing into specialised recycling equipment and unique process engineering that offers a highly effective and environmentally safe solution for end-of-life photovoltaic (PV) panels and ancillary equipment such as transformers and batteries.

We are the only Australian licensed e-waste recycler offering PV panel recycling services. PV panels are expected to be classified as e-waste as early as 2025, and our existing verified reporting and industry-leading waste tracking capabilities will ensure fully verifiable recycling performance and certified certificates of destruction are available to our clients.

PV Panel Recycling Services

Scipher offers a range of services and solutions for end-of-life PV panels, including:

  • Advice and Consulting: with a focus on product stewardship requirements for OEMs, large-scale PV power plant owners and asset managers
  • Collections: Provision of secure cages for safe on-site collection and storage of PV panels
  • Logistics Services: Pick-up and transport of end-of-life PV panels to our licensed recycling facilitates

PV panels are designed to maximise the conversion and transfer of radiation and solar energy into electricity. The manufacturing process involves laminating layers of different materials together, providing challenges for the effective separation and clean recovery of valuable fractions contained in the panels.

Scipher has invested into specialised and commercially proven equipment, and undertaken extensive research and development with a global leading university specialising in PV panel development and recycling. Our solution yields one of the highest raw material recovery rates achievable, and is supporting Australia’s leadership in this rapidly evolving recycling industry.

Safety & Compliance

Scipher is an AS/NZS 5377 accredited commercial-scale Australian e-waste recycler that processes PV panels. Our facilities are accredited to ISO14001 Environmental Management, ISO 45001 Health & Safety Management as well as holding relevant EPA works and operating licences.

All e-waste and PV panel recycling activity undertaken by Scipher meets or exceeds minimum regulatory standards in Australia, and our industry-leading waste tracking and reporting system ensures fully verifiable data on recovery rates and mass balance analyses for every batch of e-waste (including PV panels) processed.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How are PV panels recycled?

There are several technologies and methods for recovering the materials in end-of-life PV panels.

Shredding and granulating panels results in a contaminated mix of output, and is not an effective process as high-value fractions are not able to be subsequently recovered.

Hot knife technology allows for the clean separation of glass and PV laminate, resulting in an ability to cost-effectively separate silicon and silver to high grades of fractional purity.

How do I dispose of end-of-life PV panels?

The PV Panel recycling industry is in its infancy, and as the volume of end-of-life PV panels grows in Australia legislation is expected to be introduced to support safe, responsible and transparent collection and recycling of the waste stream.

If you have solar panels that have become obsolete, we recommend you contact a certified (CEC) installer, your local council waste collection department or a licensed specialised solar panel recycler to provide advice on disposal options.

Scipher’s national logistics and e-waste collection network allows us to service the majority of locations across Australia, including regional and remote areas, for collection and transport of solar panels.

A significant volume of PV panels are currently exported to developing nations for either reuse (with very limited life remaining) or low quality and unsafe recycling.

Scipher’s waste tracking system and recycling reporting capability provides PV panel importers, users (households and large-scale PV power plant owners) and other stakeholders within the PV panel life-cycle verifiable data and information on on-shore recycling outcomes.

What are PV panels made of?

Solar panels are manufactured by bonding and laminating the following layers and components together:

  • Aluminium Frame
  • Glass sheet
  • PV Solar Cells
  • Plastic laminate
  • Plastic EVA Back Sheet
  • Junction Box

A number of valuable metals and critical minerals are used for construction of panels including Aluminium, Silicon, Copper and Silver.

Advanced technologies and processes such as Scipher’s PV panel recycling solution can separate many of these elements to a high degree of purity and de-contamination, enabling them to be returned to secondary and primary manufacturing phases for new panels and other products, in turn supporting the circular economy.

Where can I send old PV panels?

Many local councils now offer drop-off facilities at their waste transfer stations, and are a good place to start if you are looking to dispose end-of-life solar panels.

Scipher’s logistics network allows us to service the majority of Australia for collection and transport of solar panels. Get in touch with our team today to find out if Scipher can help with your solar panel recycling.

Does Scipher recycle all types of PV panels?

Scipher recycles Silicon-based PV panels, which account for almost 99% of PV panels installed in Australia.

Thin-film PV panels that include Cadminum Telluride (CdTe) or Copper-Indium-Galium-Sellenide (CIGS) should be provided to the manufacturer at end-of-life for appropriate recycling.