Surprising Hazards of Solar Panel Disposal

Surprising Hazards of Solar Panel Disposal

The United States is doing its best to improve sustainability and encourage green energy. One of the most popular forms of green energy is solar, which we channel through solar panels. California is one of the leading states in the solar industry, with millions of solar panels installed in residential and commercial areas throughout the state. If your business uses solar panels, then you know firsthand just how great this form of energy is. However, some of the methods used to dispose of those solar panels when they wear out aren’t so great. Keep reading to learn about the surprising hazards of solar panel disposal and how you can safely dispose of your old ones.

Hazardous Metals

The first hazard hidden within your solar panels is hazardous metals. When constructing solar panels, manufacturers use metals such as cadmium and lead to improve energy efficiency. Unfortunately, metals such as these are also toxic. While in use, they pose no risk to the user since solar panel producers encase these metals in glass. However, if a natural disaster damages your business’s solar panels or they eventually wear out and crack, then anyone handling the solar panels risks exposure.

Leaking Landfills

The solution to the hazardous metals we mentioned above seems clear: dispose of damaged or worn ones as soon as possible. However, disposal isn’t as simple as it seems. In California, it’s illegal to put solar panels with hazardous materials into landfills since the toxic metals can leak into the soil and water. This means your business must either deconstruct the solar panels, which can be costly, or dispose of them elsewhere.

Many companies choose to dispose of worn-out solar panels in other countries. While this is often cheaper than deconstructing them, this option has additional hazards. There are nine classes of hazardous waste you should know since these classes affect transportation. You can find a waste management company that can safely transport these materials and may ship the solar panels abroad. However, you’re merely moving the problem from one place to another.

Some countries that buy electronic waste are still developing and don’t have laws regarding solar panel waste. This means the toxic metals can leak into their soil and water from their landfills. If you don’t want your business negatively affecting the global environment, then you shouldn’t choose this option.

Incineration Air Pollution

If landfill disposal in the US or abroad isn’t an option, then what disposal options are available? A popular alternative is incineration. Many waste management companies can perform safe incineration for you. However, some forms of incineration can cause air pollution. Burning hazardous waste can release toxic fumes into the atmosphere and pollute the air close to the incinerator and further away. Partner with a waste management company that uses pollution monitoring so you can safely incinerate your waste without contributing to air pollution.

Solar panel disposal contains surprising hazards for your business. When it’s time for your business to dispose of its old solar panels, work with a local waste management company to ensure your business’s waste processes meet state and local legal compliance, so you can focus on your company’s goals instead of its waste.

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