Probably the most troubling thing I learned reporting this story is that in most US states, it's not only legal to dump solar panels in landfills, it's by far the cheapest disposal option. We are doing NOTHING to mandate special disposal or manufacturer responsibility.
This is bad for a few reasons, one being that solar panels contain small amounts of lead, which may leach out over time. Equally important: They contain lots of silver.

So much so that if we don't start reclaiming it, we won't have enough to build all the solar we need.
I'm not remotely kidding about the silver. Known global reserves stand at just over 500k metric tons, per the USGS. At current extraction rates, we'll use it all in 21 years and might be able to build enough solar to support ~10 % global energy needs. Then, it's gone.
The good news is the EU has been working on recycling solutions for over 10 years. There's still a lot of room for improvement, but they have a model that works: Manufacturers pay a small fee for each panel they sell into a fund to support takeback & recycling.
This subsidization is necessary because 1) processes are still expensive and 3) volumes of solar e-waste are currently too low to create economies of scale.

As the EU generates more waste, costs will decline. It's already an order of magnitude cheaper than in the US
The EU is also doing really need things around repair/reuse of secondhand solar panels, which is great because you can get more value for it. This is another thing the US could emulate. 
Bonkers thing I didn't get into here: In California, panels are treated as hazardous waste and there's no extended producer responsibility. The result? They can't go in landfills, so they are piling up in warehouses and being illegally exported.
Anyway, a fascinating problem I knew very little about. The good news is it's eminently solvable, we just need producers to take responsibility and that will require mandates, regulations, and probably recycling subsidies while the industry gets on its feet.
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