Are Solar Panels Recyclable? (And 7 Ways to Reuse Them)

Hardly is there anything right now that has no alternative that is more energy-efficient and eco-friendly.

This is the way technology and innovation have blessed us. Regarding power or electricity supply, there have been great campaigns about how inefficient the old and regular means of generating electricity is. To be honest, if you consider the statistics, you will find some disturbing truths about the damage being done to the environment through the old means of light generation.

The eco-friendly alternative to this is the adoption and use of solar panels to generate light. Though solar panels have been around since the early years of the last century, it just began to gain traction in the last couple of decades.

People and government now count it as the better alternative to the way light used to be generated. What we now have is an influx of solar panels in every institution, neighborhood, and home.

While this is good, there is always some sense of caution when the demand and supply for a product are on the high side. This caution is mostly fueled by the demand, supply, and use of this product for the environment.

For solar panels, we cannot but ask the same question. For this reason, this post shall be considering some salient points with regards to solar panels and their effect on the environment. We shall look at whether or not you can recycle solar panels if you can throw them away and ways to recycle your old solar panels.

We don’t want to sound like your boss, but we would say you have a lot on your table just for this post. What you have to do is buckle up and join us as we consider these salient points.

Can You Recycle Solar Panels?

Solar panels have been lifesavers in many instances. They are the environmental alternative that replaced the old order. Despite this, we all still need to consider whether or not you can recycle them.

This is important for everyone to know. The reason is simple. Knowing whether you can recycle or not would go a long way to influence how we use it. Aside from this, recycling would help to save the environment and conserve energy.

However, all these would only come to fruition if it is possible to recycle the solar panels. So, first thing first, can you recycle solar panels?

The answer to this is in the affirmative. Yes, you can recycle solar panels. We know this sounds like a general question. So, what about we break everything down for you? You would love that, right? Let’s go.

Before we move further, it would be best to understand what materials the standard solar panel is made of. This would give you an insight into the details of how they are recycled.

There are two kinds of solar panels. There is the silicon-based one, and there is the other that is thin-film based.

Silicon-Based Solar Panel: With this solar panel, there is about one percent metal, five percent silicon, and eight percent aluminum for the silicon-based solar panel. The other materials include ten percent of plastic and seventy-six percent glass.

Thin-Film Based Solar Panel: For this solar panel, there is about one percent metal for the thin-film-based solar panel, six percent aluminum, four percent plastic, and eight-six percent glass.

Recycling The Materials of Solar Panels

Taking a cursory look into the above materials would give you a great insight into why solar panels are considered recyclable. Though both kinds have the same materials in them, they, however, have different quantities.

For emphasis, metal, aluminum, plastic, and glass are materials that recycling stations would love to have. These are recyclable materials that are easy to recycle. Metal, for instance, can be recycled time and time again. The same thing goes for plastic and aluminum. Glass is also not an exception.

This state of things is part of what makes solar panels preferable.

However, there are still some things to take note of. One of the paramount things is that solar panels and all other materials used for them are jointed. This means you have glass, aluminum, metal, and plastic altogether.

The implication of this is that the recycling station just cannot toss the solar panel into the recycling machine. Though, there might not be a problem with putting the solar panel in the recycling bin for you. But when it gets to the recycling station, there would need to be a separation of the different materials.

To do this, recycling stations employ some special separation machine to carefully separate the materials. The problem, however, is that not all recycling stations have this kind of separation machine. And without it, there can be no recycling of solar panels.

What this suggest is for you to do due diligence on your part. It would be best you confirmed with your local recycling station before sending your old solar panel for recycling. If your local recycling station has the machine, you are free to send the solar panel.

If it does not have, you may need to find another means to send your solar panel to a recycling station with that separation machine. One thing that you can’t compromise on is recycling your solar panel.

Let us consider why this is crucial as we take a look at whether or not solar panels are eco-friendly.

Are Solar Panels Eco-Friendly?

Solar panels are in vogue all over the world. It is, therefore, important to consider their eco-friendliness status.

One thing you have to know is that solar panels are eco-friendly. Before we go into details of why this is the case, let’s first state that your misuse of the solar panel could make it not friendly to the environment. This can be the case if you dispose of your solar panel instead of recycling it.

Remember that the materials used for the solar panels are solid materials that take an extremely long time to biodegrade. Of all the materials on the solar panel, glass constitutes the highest. And the last time we checked; glass takes about one million years to biodegrade. Plastic also takes about one thousand years to biodegrade.

This shows that both materials do not have any business in the landfill. We should all make conscious efforts to recycle them. This way, we would not have to worry about the misuse of the solar panel.

Now, back to why we think solar panels are eco-friendly. We have explained some brief points to convince you below.

1. Reduces Pollution

Generating electricity through fossil fuel releases some harmful carbon and methane into the environment. This goes a long way to add to the pollution of the atmosphere. The result is that the quality of the air we breathe is reduced, and that affects our health. Besides, we would be breathing in toxic gases instead of clean oxygen. This is one of the many evils of the old way of generating electricity.

With the solar panel, the problem of pollution is eradicated. Solar panel taps its light directly from the sun, so there is no emission of dangerous gases recorded in the process.

This means that the more the world embraces solar panels, the cleaner the atmosphere we would all have.

2. Reduces The Impact Of Climate Change

True, the solar panel cannot stop global climate change, but it can significantly reduce its impact. When solar panels are adopted, and the old means of generating light is done away with, that becomes a plus for the environment.

This is possible because the old means that adopt fossil fuel release some greenhouse gas that depletes the ozone layer and affect the climate. It follows that the more solar panel we use, the better for us all.

If you think about it, this is a huge plus for the environment. And again, it seems that the faster we do away with the old means of generating electricity, the more water we can conserve.

These are some of the few points we considered to arrive at the conclusion that solar panels are more eco-friendly. It, therefore, means that everyone should be in love with the idea of solar panels.

But then, we know there are some people somewhere thinking about throwing away their solar panels. You might be one of these people, but that’s not the ultimate concern. The ultimate concern is, can you throw away your solar panel?

Let’s consider that below.

Can You Throw Away Solar Panels?

Throwing solar panels away may seem like the easiest thing you can ever do. But if you are considering this, then you are mistaken.

You shouldn’t throw away your solar panel. This is because it poses a lot of danger to the environment. Like we pointed out above, solar panels have materials that take extremely long years to decompose. The implication of this is that if you throw your solar panels away, they just remain in the landfill, occupying space and causing harm to the environment.

The best thing to do with your solar panel is to send them for recycling. It is cheaper this way, and you get to contribute to saving the environment just by doing this.

7 Creative Ways To Reuse Old Solar Panels

Recycling old solar panels is a lot of ways easier than you can imagine. For recycling stations, what they do is to disassemble the solar panels into their different materials. After this, they recycle different materials separately.

For you at home, you are probably thinking about a creative DIY thing you can do with your old solar panels. Well, we have got you covered. Below, you will find a few things you can do with your old solar panel.

1. Make A Center Table

We bet you haven’t seen a solar panel table before. You need to see the beauty it holds. You can also have that for yourself.  All you have to do is weld some legs below the solar panel.

The solar panel has an aluminum bottom, so welding should come easy. That’s all you have to do. The rest is history.

2. Take It Along For Vacation

A fun fact about solar panels is that they are not always totally sapped out. In many instances, they still have some energy to power you for a few hours.

This means you can put them in your trunk when next you are going on a vacation. You will be glad you did.

3. Make fences

You don’t have to limit your use of solar panels to supply electricity. When they are old, you can also use them to make fences. The process is just like building your fences with other materials like iron or wood. So, don’t fret. You can make it happen.

4. Use Them as Shade

Even if you are more using solar panels for power generation, you can use them on your roof to provide shade. This will keep your home cooler during the summers and lower down your cooling costs.

5. Use Them as Insulation

You can use your old solar panels to create walls and insulation to make your home even more eco friendly. This could help you to live a sustainable lifestyle.

6. Create Greenhouses

The most common use of solar panels is to make greenhouses. A greenhouse is generally made up of glass and so are solar panels. You can easily make use of them and keep your plants warm throughout the cooler months.

7. Donate Them

Don’t need solar panels anymore. No problem. Just post about your used solar panels on social media accounts or let your friends know about it. We are sure someone will take your solar panels and make good use of your offer.


Solar panels are eco-friendly, but we have to use them the right way. This is why you have the information above. Follow them, and we would all be fine.


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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.