Recycling of silicon based PV modules
A PV module consists of approximately 80% of glass. Therefore, the flat glass recyclingindustry can treat this product in their current recycling lines.Due to similar morphology, structure and composition of PV modules and flat glass products, PV CYCLE can benefit from important synergies and capacities here.
The process consists of three main steps:
- Preparation step – removing of frame and junction box
- Shredding
- Processing in the flat glass recycling line

Output fractions of this process are ferrous and non-ferrous metals, glass, silicon and plastics with a recycling average quota between 80 to 90% (input weight, depending on recycling technology). The glass resulting from PV modules is mixed with standard glass cullet, and partially reintroduced in glass fiber or insulation products and partly in glass packaging products. The metals, silicon and plastics can be used for the production of new raw materials.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) screening of the Maltha recycling process for Si-PV modules


Recycling of non-silicon based PV modules
For CI(G)S and CdTe end-of-life PV modules, three companies today, all located in Germany, deploy their own recycling technologies within the PV CYCLE umbrella. Up to 95% of the materials used in these modules can be recovered for the use in new materials.
Two of them employ a chemical bath to delaminate and separate the different PV module components:
- Shredding
- Solubilising
- Detaching
- Sorting of the materials

Tenside bath:
- Chemical bath
- Sorting of the materials
- Further processing in dedicated glass and semiconductor recycling facilities

Source and additional information:

Swissolar, the professional association for the swiss solar energy, and SENS eRecycling have signed a cooperation agreement that from 1.1.2014 will govern the main aspects of the recovery and disposal of photovoltaic modules in Switzerland.
Through this collaboration, Swissolar makes available to its members, and then through them to consumers a cost-effective solution, and environmentally optimal thanks to strict controls, for the recovery and disposal of the modules. In practise SENS eRecycling arranges for companies affiliated with Swissolar teh recovery and recycling of modules and related accessories.
Swissolar and SENS eRecycling have regulated the collaboration through a contract mantle. The latter serves as the basis for individual contracts, which in a second step SENS eRecycling will stipulate with members of Swissolar. It covers the affiliated companies that manufacture or import directly photovoltaic modules. The financing of recycling will be secured by an in advance recycling fee (TRA).

Prices for the disposal of photovoltaic modules

Tariff category TRA Photovoltaic modules incl. accessories (dispositive switching, commands) In advance recycling fee (TRA) 8.0% VAT incl. In advance recycling fee (TRA) 8.0% VAT escl.
600110 per kg CHF 0.043 CHF 0.040