Got old solar panels? Recycle them with Zero Waste Sonoma

Read the article on the Sonoma County Gazette

May 31, 2023

With many Sonoma County residents deep in home improvement projects, the need for solar panel recycling and safe disposal is bigger than ever. That’s why Zero Waste Sonoma, the Conservation Corps North Bay and CalRecycle is joining together to host the first residential solar panel collection event on Friday, June 16 at the Luther Burbank Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Residents can make an appointment at to drop off up to 40 solar panels. Only residential solar panels will be accepted; commercial solar panels will not be accepted.

According to a press release from Zero Waste Sonoma, solar panels are currently considered hazardous waste and cannot be safely disposed in a landfill and only 10 percent of solar photovoltaic, or PV, panels are currently recycled. When solar panels are recycled, some of the valuable mineral components, including cadmium telluride, silver, copper and silicon, can be used to create new panels.

“We project that some of the panels collected will be a result of these early replacements, which would result in those panels with an estimated retention of 70 to 90 percent of their original capacity being diverted from recycling for reuse or repair,” wrote Katie Cushwa, press contact with Zero Waste Sonoma.

While solar panels have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years, staff from Zero Waste Sonoma expect to receive solar panels that have not yet been exhausted, as some homeowners replace them before the end of their lifespan.

“We will use this opportunity to learn more about what solar panel recycling needs exist in Sonoma County so we can determine if we’ll benefit from a permanent program,” said Courtney Scott, household hazardous waste program manager with Zero Waste Sonoma.