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Can you recycle solar modules?

Updated: Mar 18

Despite all of the environmental benefits of solar modules, they are difficult to recycle and are typically not. Other than the aluminum frame, most of the solar module is a laminate of glass, solar cells, and back skin held together by a glue of EVA. Because of this it is difficult to pull the parts apart to reuse. Even the junction box is glued on, making it difficult to remove.

So if you cannot recycle a solar module how do you dispose of it? Typically most solar modules end up in a landfill, however if they are electrically functional they can be reused. Most crystalline solar modules degrade 0.5% to 1% per year, so after 20 years the output of a solar module could have reduced by 20%, however it still can produce 80% of it's original rating. This has created a marked for used solar modules.

So what do you do if the solar module is no longer electrically functional? If the front glass is broken there is not much you can do. however if the glass is still intact the solar module can be repurposed.

I have turned solar modules into furniture and art. They make excellent tables and art, only limited by your imagination. And because solar modules are designed to go outside, they can even be used for outdoor tables.

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