Household Hazardous Waste
This item should never be put in a curbside bin. For more information visit our household hazardous waste page.
Photovoltaic devices that convert the sunlight into electricity or heat.
As of 1/1/2021, some solar panels may be managed as Universal Waste in California per DTSC (see details). The California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC - choose Solar under Products) holds the most current links to policy, studies, and articles on Solar Panels recycling in California, the US, and globally.
Solar panel design makes disassembly and recovery of the various components — from glass to the various precious metals in them such as cadmium, gallium, germanium, indium, selenium and tellurium — a complicated process. Most wind up at shredders or landfills, because the case for selling the glass and aluminum in them doesn’t make economic sense. A project at Arizona State University hopes to create a solar recycling process that makes it simpler to recover materials such as silicon and silver from photovoltaic technology in a way that makes the economics pencil out.
Invest in panels that are durable, warrantied, non-hazardous, and recyclable. If there is a problem, contact your installer or service provider for repair options. If the panels need to be replaced but still operate, donate for reuse or contact a reseller (ex. Habitat for Humanity). Use new brackets to install reused PVs. If the panels have broken glass or are damaged, consider refurbishing or recycling, contact installer and service provider, then a possible hazardous waste facility or company.
The California Energy Commission maintains a list of PV modules available for purchase, by manufacturer, model number, and includes hazardous content.
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