Yes, solar panels can be recycled. They are made up of various materials, including glass, aluminium, silicon, plastic, and copper, all of which can be recycled in existing industries. Recycling typically involves crushing, shredding, and milling the panels, then separating the different materials. The glass can be used to make new solar panels, while the aluminium can make new frames and other products. The silicon can be used to make new solar cells, and the plastic and copper can be recycled into new products.
Only a small percentage of solar panels (up to 17%) can be recycled in Australia. The most commonly recycled components are the aluminium frame and junction box. The remaining materials (glass, silicon, and polymer back sheeting) are not recyclable.
Despite the challenges, there is growing interest in solar panel recycling. The government of Victoria has banned solar panels from landfills, and other states are considering similar measures. As the demand for solar panel recycling increases, new technologies are being developed to make the process more efficient and cost-effective.