Australian-first solar panel recycling program launched

Reclaim PV’s new furnace at their facility in Adelaide (solar recycling)
Reclaim PV’s new furnace at their facility in Adelaide; the technology allows up 98 per cent of the solar panel to be recycled (Image: Reclaim PV)

Australia’s only domestic solar panel manufacturer, Tindo Solar, has committed to a recycling program with Reclaim PV that will see close to 100 per cent of solar panels recycled and re-used in the industry. 

In an Australian and industry first, the agreement between the two Adelaide-based companies will see Tindo and Reclaim PV working towards a sustainable solution to address the problem of solar panels going to landfill when they’re disposed of—a problem that could amount to 100,000 tonnes of modules by 2035.  

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The agreement comes as Reclaim PV continues to add partners to its national recovery and recycling network and commences recycling at its Lonsdale facility in Adelaide, and Tindo Solar installs an upgraded production line in its new factory. 

Tindo Solar CEO Shayne Jaenisch said while his company did not have an immediate solar panel landfill problem because Tindo products were made to last 25 years, Tindo Group’s installation business took hundreds of end-of-life panels from roofs every month, to be replaced by Tindo Solar panels, which presented an opportunity to direct the old panels to Reclaim PV facilities. 

“We have partnered with Reclaim PV because as Australia’s only domestic solar panel manufacturer, we recognise that a fully sustainable energy system requires a solution for its waste product, which in our industry is disused panels. 

“Reclaim PV’s processes allow for a whole-life cycle approach to solar panels—meaning they needn’t become landfill. It’s a really important development in the energy transition and one that we’re very proud to be a part of.” 

Reclaim PV’s recycling system follows a three-stage process of manual separation, then thermal separation, followed by a chemical process that sees close to 100 per cent of the solar panel recycled. The result is recovered aluminium, silicon, copper, silver and glass—as well as recovered glue constituents—that are then re-used in the manufacture of new products. 

Currently, the 2 per cent of the panel that can’t be recycled is the junction box. Reclaim PV is working with a leading University to come up with a solution which would see a use for this remaining part of the panel.  

Reclaim PV director/founder Clive Fleming said, “We are proud to be partnering with companies such as Tindo Solar who have the ability, and want to create and accelerate the end-to-end recovery and recycling of solar panels. 

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“Waste is never waste. It is a resource, and we just need to treat it as such. This is the key concept of the circular economy—that nothing is wasted, and everything is re-used as part of a continuous cycle. But this doesn’t work unless we’re all playing our part.

“The establishment of a national recovery and recycling network is an absolute necessity for the PV industry and for Australia which already has a solar panel disposal challenge on its hands. Reclaim PV is committed to providing an end-to-end solution to meet this challenge and to the responsible recovery and recycling of end-of-life solar panels.”