I have written on the problem with the end of life of solar panels. The real problem is that as with many products that we make, we don’t think of the end of life of that product as a chance to recover valuable resources, but as an end of life.
This is one of the problems with solar panels. We don’t design for end of life recycling and reuse….just that they are dead.
Thankfully, this is starting to change. We are starting to think about solar panels as a resource. Indeed, there is at least one firm that has found a way to recycle the silicon in an old solar panel to make new solar panels. While the new panels are slightly less efficient, this is a step towards removing them from our landfills…and in turn, removing lead and other metals from our landfills as well.