Recycling Solar Panels

Recycling Solar Panels

Recycling solar panels is very important. Solar panels last long with shelf lives of 30 years or more, but become inefficient and worn out after such periods. During expected lifespan, the panels could exhibit percentage decrease in its power capacity. Industry experts refer to solar panels as photovoltaic or PV cells.

As of 2016, American homes and commercial buildings boasted more than one million installations of solar panels nationwide. In Europe alone, more than 4-million solar panels provide regular electricity. What happens when these panels have exhausted their shell life? Interco recycles them of course.

Are Solar Panels Recyclable?

Recycling Solar Panels

How does recycling solar panels contribute to the earth’s sustainable redevelopment? Indeed, it is especially important in an era where solar power is the fastest and cleanest growing renewable source of energy in the world. Interco is a member of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

More so, in 2015, experts estimated approximately 500,000 solar panels were being installed globally every day. So, where do all these panels go to after they have exhausted their shelf life? Certainly not deposited in landfills! No, they still possess value as scrap material to the right recycling company. Interco recycles solar panels and returns the newly recycled raw materials back to the industrial world.

Because of the infancy of the solar industry and length of the panel’s shell life. Recycling solar panels may not be that prominent in most countries. In the United States, Interco is a leader in solar panel recycling. They process material throughout North America, the Caribbean, and as far as Hawaii.

What Can Be Recovered from Recycling?

Recycling solar panels helps recover over 80 percent of a crystalline silicon unit from each solar panel. Examples of other recyclable parts of a solar panel are: electric junction boxes, glass and plastics, and aluminum frames and brackets.

How are Solar Panels Recycled?

Interco recycles solar panels according to their types. The two main types at present categorized as silicon-based or thin-filmed panels. As a result, there are two main methods of recycling solar panels:

Silicon Based Solar Panel Recycling
  1. Recycling silicon-based solar panels begins with the dismantling of the panels. This process separates its aluminum and glass. Both materials are individually recyclable.
  2. Then, they subject the rest of the modules to a temperature of 500◦ Celsius. This takes place in a thermal processing unit to ease the bonds between the cell elements.
  3. Once the heat is applied, the plastic evaporates. This leaves the silicon cells for processing.
  4. After the heat treatment, the melting process separates the hardware. The separate the hardware, which is 80 percent reusable, from the silicon particles.
  5. As a result, material is ready for use in the new silicon modules.
Thin-Film Based Solar Panel Recycling
Recycling Solar Panels
  • Recycling solar panels of this type speeds up the process. It completes the process faster and more drastically.
  • Machines shred the thin-film based panels from the mill the material. This ensures all particles are approximately 4-5 mm in size.
  • Unlike silicon based panels, a rotating screw separates the remaining solid and liquid materials.
  • Consequently, the process purifies liquids through precipitation. It also separates them from the semiconductor materials through a metal processor.
  • Recyclers remove the contaminated solid materials containing inter-layer materials. Furthermore, a vibrating surface separates these materials.
  • Approximately 90% of these materials are reintroduced. Most can be used in the re-manufacturing processes.


Most noteworthy, like computers and electronics recycling the processing of solar panels is considered a subcategory of eWaste recycling grows faster than ever. The importance of recycling solar panels increases more important everyday. Interco is a leader in solar panel recycling in the United States. Interco recycles solar panels from across North America. Even solar panels from the Caribbean find their way to Interco for recycling. Interco often handles the domestic and international logistics services and recycles solar panels from Hawaii as well.

Importance of Computers and Electronics Recycling

Importance of Computers and Electronics Recycling

As eWaste continuously grows exponentially worldwide, computers and electronics recycling occupies the bulk of this category. The environmental impacts of computers and electronics recycling raised several concerns in different societies. Computers and Electronics Recycling is here to stay. Many states have recycling programs.

Computer and electronics parts make up a good deal of the sourcing of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Some include traces of precious metals, resins as well as elements of lead, cadmium, mercury, silicon, and other materials.  Especially relevant, recyclers process these by-products and recycle them for manufacturing use.

Computer and Electronics recycling possesses numerous benefits both to mankind and to the environment. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Reduces Environmental Pollution: Computer and electronics recycling helps reduce toxic waste which would have otherwise polluted the environment.
  2. Raw Materials for Industries: Recyclers use the materials recovered from the recycling process such as gold and silver, to manufacture other products.
  3. Source of funds: It provides a means to turn unwanted computers and electronics into money.

Steps in Computer and Electronics Recycling Process

The process of computer and electronics recycling involves some basic steps summarized below:

Importance of Computers and Electronics Recycling
CD Drives-2

Collection and Pre-Processing

  • Step 1 – Collection: This involves going around to homes and offices to collect these unused computers and electronics. Depending on the recycling company, the owners of the eWaste charge the recycling company a little amount. In some cases, these companies charge the owners of the wastes for disposal of their wastes products. Some computer and electronics manufacturing dealers exchange old computers for new ones at very low cost.
  • Step 2 – Sorting: After collecting these waste computer and electronics products, recyclers manually sort the material in to categories. Next, the material enters the manufacturing processes. Finally, they separate the electronics with cathode ray tubes in them from those that do not.
  • Step 3Testing: Upon completion of the sorting process, technicians test the material to determine whether they have potential to be reused. If a computer is not fully degraded, it can be repaired and resold. Some are refurbished and donated to charity organizations where they are needed.

The Manual Work

Importance of Computers and Electronics Recycling
Importance of Computers and Electronics Recycling
  • Step 4 – Manual Disassembly: After the testing process is completed, electronics and computers that cannot be refurbished are then disintegrated into their different parts. They often resell functional components to second-hand resellers or back to the manufacturer. Computer and electronics recycling  companies further separate the components into ferrous and non-ferrous metals as well as cathode ray tubes.
  • Step 5 – Destruction of Data: When facilities complete the disassembly, they remove the data in components such as memory cards and completely destroy the hard drives. Accordingly, they process the components to form aluminum ingots which can be useful in the automotive industry.
  • Step 6 – Separation: Once they destroy the data, they shred the materials into a composite. Furthermore, they pass the debris and utilize special techniques to recover valuable components. They use smelting for the recovery of special metals like gold.
  • Step 7 – Reuse: After they complete the separation, they send the different types of materials to secondary recyclers. They take the metal to the metal recycler to produce steel and other useful products. As a result, processing plants recycle the plastics. CRT glass undergoes a different kind of recycling process to remove lead. Companies sell this material to other downstream recycling companies who extract the glass for reuse.

Most noteworthy, computer and electronics recycling is a necessary process for every society to adopt. It helps in the reduction of environmental degradation and provides relevant resources for the production process. Therefore, nobody can overlook the great impacts of computer and electronics recycling. Finally, there are events specifically pertaining to computer and electronics recycling. Contact Interco here.