Yuma, Ariz. (May 15, 2023) — We Recycle Solar, Inc., North America’s first vertically-integrated organization specializing in the recycling and remarketing of excess, damaged, and end-of-life solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, has expanded its Yuma, Ariz.-based operation to tackle the growing environmental challenge of solar panel waste.
In 2016, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimated that cumulative solar panel waste volume would reach up to 1 million tons globally by 2030, and 78 million tons by 2050, based on an average PV lifespan of 30 years. However, as early solar panel replacement becomes more and more widespread, discarded solar panels are flooding U.S. landfills—where they can contaminate soil and groundwater with toxic heavy metals and carcinogens including arsenic, lead and cadmium—at rates that far outpace previous forecasts.
Headquartered in Yuma, Ariz., We Recycle Solar specializes in the highly-technical task of solar panel removal, decommissioning, recycling, and processing for reuse and is the nation’s only solar recycler fully permitted by the federal EPA to handle hazardous secondary materials generated by solar panels.
Founded in August 2019 by a team of infrastructure and environmental entrepreneurs, We Recycle Solar has recycled or remarketed more than 500,000 end-of-life solar panels to date, diverting 23 million pounds of hazardous solar panel waste from landfills.
Now, with the addition of new lines of machinery and enhanced technology, We Recycle Solar’s full-scale PV recycling plant boasts the highest processing capacity in the nation, with the ability to process panels of every make and model, from any manufacturer, including those that are severely damaged, at a rate of up to 10 panels per minute.
In a single day, We Recycle Solar’s utility-scale 75,000 sq. ft. Yuma, Ariz. facility has the capacity to process 7,500 modules, or 345,000 pounds, for recycling & reuse, and 69 million pounds in a single year—the weight of roughly 700 Boeing 737 commercial jets—with plans to quadruple capacity to 522 million pounds per year by 2028.
“Cumulative solar waste is an enormous environmental issue facing our planet, and it could be up to fifty times bigger, and get here five years sooner than previously expected,” said We Recycle Solar CEO Adam Saghei. “We’ve not only increased processing speed and volume capacity enough to tackle roughly 25% of the current national need for recycling—we’ve also expanded our specialized solar handling teams, resulting in a breakage reduction of up to 30 percent at the time of decommissioning, which significantly increases the amount of PV panels we’re able to repurpose for the resale market.”
“We believe that sustainability in the American energy value chain can only be realized by empowering solar asset owners with a means of harnessing the economic value of their end-of-life panels,” said We Recycle Solar Vice President AJ Orben. “Our vertically-integrated capabilities, including our full-scale Yuma operation, aim to maximize resource value for all solar chain participants and ultimately position us to incentivize and serve major large-scale businesses for the greatest possible impact.”