Zero Waste Sonoma Solar Panel Recycling Pilot Project Press Release

Get more information here!

June 16th 2023, 9am-5pm

Join Zero Waste Sonoma, the Conservation Corps North Bay, and CalRecycle as we host our very first residential solar panel collection event!

Solar panels are currently considered universal waste, a category of hazardous waste, and cannot be safely disposed of in a landfill. Only 10% of solar photovoltaic, or PV, panels are recycled today in the US. Several companies and organizations in California recycle old solar panels to retrieve the valuable mineral components to use in new panels, but they only accept large quantity donations that are far larger than a typical residential array. Valuable materials contained in solar panels include cadmium telluride, silver, copper, and silicon. When removed from old panels these materials can be reutilized, lowering the need for additional mining for the projected demand for solar panels, driven in part by legislation.

Many solar panels have a lifespan of 20-30 years, but some homeowners replace solar panels before the end of their lifespan. 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 70-90% of their original capacity being diverted from recycling for reuse or repair. Courtney Scott, Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program Manager, is excited about the project, “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.”

Panels collected at the event must be generated by a resident (not a business) in Sonoma County. Residents can bring a maximum of 40 panels. Appointment required, please register here.

Zero Waste Sonoma’s mission is to empower personal action in waste reductions and materials management by implementing practical solutions to protect our natural resources. This project is funded by a grant from CalRecycle.