Photovoltaic Waste Handling: E-waste Management in the UK

Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are precious assets for the renewable energy sector. From opting for green energy to saving natural resources, solar panels have emerged as an integral power source in the country. The dilemma of photovoltaic waste handling surfaces when the panels reach the end of their cycle.

While pounds of solar panels have already been replaced, thousands may end up in the garbage in the coming years. Considering the importance of recovering potential components for remanufacturing and the hazards of improper disposal, it is safe to contact certified recyclers.

Recycling solar panel modules is the safest option to avoid environmental toxicity and rising landfills.

Are you struggling with non-functional PV panels?

We will guide you through the core aspects of managing defunct PV panels. Don't let non-operational panels hold you back.

Overview of PV Module Recycling in the UK

Recycling PV modules is the most convenient option at the end of productive life. Here are the reasons to consider recycling solar panels and avoid heaps of landfills.

#1. PV Panels are Hazardous E-waste

Dr. Vasilis Fthenakis, Department of Earth & Environmental Engineering and Founder and Director of the Center for Life Cycle Analysis (CLCA) at Columbia University, highlights the impact of lead halide perovskite (LHP) photovoltaics on the environment – soil, water, and air.

Perovskite PV products contain toxic lead compounds. Exposure to LHP can cause multiple health issues in humans. These crystallographic substances can raise blood pressure levels, cause anaemia, and harm the foetus in pregnant women. Lead ingestion in children can lower IQ, retard physical and brain development, and affect hearing abilities.

Recycling is the ideal option for removing solar panels from domestic and commercial premises without risky, accidental contamination. Professional recyclers leverage safe removal methods to prevent exposure of toxic elements to the surroundings.

#2. Recovering Precious Materials

The valuable materials salvaged from the old and inoperable photovoltaic modules can be repurposed for producing new solar panels. The e-waste comprises precious items, especially silicon, silver, and aluminium frames.

Moreover, the panels consist of large quantities of glass and plastic, recovered for further use during disassembling.

Up to 95% of the glass sheets extracted from the conveyor belt can be recycled. Hence, solar module recycling is a safe method of removing and repurposing valuable assets for future manufacturing.

#3. Alarming Rise of Landfills across the Country

The load of waste is constantly rising across 500 landfill sites in the UK. Every year, over 100,000 tonnes of cheap electronic goods are thrown into waste bins (according to a survey by Material Focus, a non-profit organisation). These items can be recycled to recover the resources for remanufacturing quality products.

In the wake of overflowing garbage wastes and shortage of landfill space across the country, it is wise to recycle valued items rather than throwing away.

#4. Economic Growth Prospects of the Solar Panel Recycling Market

The growth of the global solar panel recycling market is estimated at £1.29 billion by 2028. There has been a massive switch to renewable and sustainable energy opportunities in the commercial zones in the last few decades.

Large volumes of panels are about to reach the end of life in the next few years. Eyeing the responsible e-waste handling and imposition of WEEE regulations, the recycling industry is booming worldwide, and the UK is not an exception.

Wrapping Up,

Recycling is by far the most effective end-of-life management of PV modules. At least 80-95% of the solar panel components are recyclable, employing safe and permissible extraction methods. When the energy efficiency of worn-out solar panels drops, it is time to replace them with new modules.

Rather than discarding it in the garbage, contact us for photovoltaic recycling. At Evolution Solar Recycling, the team of certified recyclers use state-of-the-art equipment for safe PV panel removal to prevent mishaps and accidental exposure to high-risk e-waste chemicals.

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