People removing solar panels from roof

Solar panel recycling in Australia

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This Canstar Blue article outlines all you need to know about solar panel recycling in Australia.

Solar panels generally keep a decent lifespan of 25 to 30 years. But like all good things, unfortunately there will come a day when the performance of your solar panels will begin to falter. And while solar upgrades or replacements are available, there’ll be a time when getting rid of the panels is the only solution.

So, what should you do with your solar panels when they no longer suit your needs? In this guide, we take a look at one disposal alternative for solar panels: recycling. We share how and where you can recycle solar panels in Australia below.

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Can you recycle solar panels?

Yes, you can recycle solar panels. Solar panels are mostly made up of glass, plastic and aluminium and when separated professionally, these materials can be recycled for reuse. Because of this complex process, solar panel recycling must be undertaken by a licensed solar panel recycling plant.

What parts of a solar panel can you recycle?

There are certain components within a solar panel that can be recycled much easier than other parts. According to Sustainability Victoria, only up to 17% of a solar panel, by weight, can currently be recycled in Australia. The easiest and most common parts recycled by plants in Australia are the panel’s aluminium frame and junction or terminal box (the box that houses the electrical connections of the panel).

Compare solar plans and prices

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 3911kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4613kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on SA Power network in Adelaide but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4011kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Where can you recycle solar panels in Australia?

Solar panels can be recycled within designated recycling plants across Australia. Here are some of the companies who collect or recycle solar panels and products:

  • Ecoactiv
  • ElecSome
  • Gedlec Energy
  • NSW Copper Recycling
  • PV Industries
  • Resolarcycle

It’s important to keep in mind that these services may come at an additional cost to bill-payers. Some companies may also require customers to transport the old panels to them.

Other ways to dispose of your solar panels

While recycling is probably the ideal solution for disposing of old solar panels, sometimes this option isn’t applicable for households and businesses. However, there are a few other ways to dispose of solar panels that can still see them avoid landfill. These are:

Caravan with solar panel

  • Pay for e-waste disposal: Most areas of Australia have an e-waste program– except Victoria which banned e-waste disposal in 2019 – wherein a local waste disposal facility will dispose of the solar panel to the e-waste section of the tip for an additional cost. It should be noted however, that E-waste programs are slowly being discouraged in Australia.
  • Sell the used solar panels: If you’re looking to make a quick return from your old solar panels and they are still operating at some capacity, it may be worth selling them as a used product via Gumtree or to friends.
  • Use the old panels for camping: Instead of getting rid of the old panels completely, it may be worth adding them to a campervan or modifying them for camping, allowing for self-generated energy whilst away from the grid. This may require the help of a licensed professional.
  • Give the panels to a scrap dealer: Selling parts to a scrap dealer is another way to dispose of old solar panels. While a dealer may not be able to buy and reuse all the parts of the panel, they can take them off your hands and dispose of the remaining parts properly after taking what is of use to them.

How long do solar panels last?

Solar panels generally last about 25 to 30 years. After 25 years however, the efficiency and quality of the panels will begin to reduce. This is known as solar degradation.

Additionally, solar inverters typically last 10-12 years, which some consumers may use as an opportunity to buy a new system instead of just replacing the inverter.

Should I recycle my solar panels?

While recycling old solar panels has its environmental benefits, there currently isn’t a streamlined procedure for recycling old panels, which can make it a costly and inconvenient affair for bill-payers. Recycling is a great way to dispose of your old solar panels, but if the expenses are too costly, there are other alternatives. You may even be able to make a deal with your solar installer when they upgrade your old system to have them take care of it for you.

In the meantime, if you are looking to make the most out of your solar system, compare solar energy providers with Canstar Blue below.

Compare Solar Providers

Image credit: anatoliy_gleb/Shutterstock.com, Milleflore Images/Shutterstock.com, Anetlanda/Shutterstock.com

Kelseigh Wrigley
Energy Specialist
Kelseigh Wrigley was a content producer at Canstar Blue for three years until 2024, most recently as an Energy Specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.

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