Solar Recycling Database

Rural markets for off-grid solar PV products in Malawi and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa lack the solid waste infrastructure needed to safely process solar products when they reach the end of their useful lives. Solar lighting systems, for example, have life spans of just two to five years, after which the component parts—including glass, plastic, electronic components, and batteries—are typically burned or discarded into the environment. These countries lack the political will and/or economic capacity to invest in large-scale solid waste infrastructure facilities. It is therefore essential that this problem be addressed though investment in safer, more sustainable, and more recyclable designs and materials, as well as through support for alternative waste management strategies.

SVTC is bringing together solar product users, researchers, and companies to develop the Solar Recycling Database. This publicly available database will evaluate widely used off-grid solar devices for durability, functionality, recyclability, and toxicity, and it will directly address emerging challenges and concerns regarding end-of-life solar waste. The project includes database research and development, as well as distribution of the information to promote end-of-life management and a whole systems approach to solar waste prevention.

The objectives of the Solar Recycling Database are to:

  • Increase the global off-grid solar industry’s capacity to address end-of-life product disposal, waste management, and recycling.
  • Promote the development of solar photovoltaic technologies that are responsibly manufactured and deliver efficient, high-quality energy.
  • Explore ways to create new economic opportunities through the safe and sustainable reuse, recovery, and recycling of solar PV materials and appliances.