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Battery recycling from electric cars is on the rise: sustainable and of great strategic importance
By: Teun Schröder

Now they only trickle in sporadically. But it is expected that dismantling companies will soon be busy with the influx of discarded electric cars. The recycling of old batteries offers a huge opportunity for the circular economy and is urgently needed to increase the independence of other continents.
“In three to five years we expect that the influx of discarded EVs will really start,” says Martijn Boelhouwer of Auto Recycling Netherlands (ARN). The supply of old electric cars is currently limited. Nowadays they mainly come in after an accident or for repairs. But with the arrival of new legislation and regulations and a growing electric vehicle fleet, this is bound to change quickly.

Recycle differently
“At ARN we ensure that we are well prepared for the increase in discarded batteries,” says Boelhouwer. Because although electric and traditional fuel cars basically end up at the same dismantling companies, the processing methods are very different. And that of course has everything to do with the battery packs in electric cars.
Battery from the car
Recycling an electric car therefore requires a different approach than a traditional model. This process starts with removing the battery from a car. Boelhouwer: "To do this, you first need training. We have developed this together with the training institute Innovam, especially for dismantling companies. You work with high voltages when you dismantle a battery from a car. In addition, you need dismantling of electric cars, specific professional tools. In some cases it may be smart if the dismantling company has an immersion tank. In case of fire risk, a battery can be immersed in this for a longer period of time to cool down and relax."

Second-use or material recycling
“Once dismantled, a discarded battery can basically travel two routes,” Boelhouwer continues. “The first is the route of second use. In that case, a battery as a whole is given a different purpose. Consider energy storage. For example, in the form of a mobile trailer with batteries that can be used in various places, such as construction sites or at events. In the other route, which is the most common, the batteries are processed by large recycling companies. These ensure that the batteries are taken apart. The loose materials and raw materials can then be used for all kinds of new applications.”

Battery recycling in the Netherlands
At the moment, these large recycling companies are still abroad, in Germany for example. But Boelhouwer expects that these types of companies will soon also establish themselves in the Netherlands. For example, the Singaporean company TES announced in 2021 that it wanted to build a factory in the port of Rotterdam. Boelhouwer: “We are hearing signals from all sides that battery recycling companies also want to establish themselves here. Some steps in the recovery of materials from batteries will also take place in the Netherlands.”
New EU rules
The system for recycling EV batteries in the Netherlands is now arranged in such a way that a battery is already recycled for 69 percent, while the legal standard is currently 50 percent. “But we expect that both our own recycling percentage and the legal standard can increase,” says Boelhouwer. “New technology and scale will bring improvements. New EU legislation will also soon make it mandatory to process a certain share of recycled material in new batteries. And soon, every battery from a vehicle will receive a material passport. This will state exactly which materials are in a battery and where they come from. That will strengthen the business case for recycling.”

Scarce metals
Moreover, the calls for independence from other continents are becoming louder. About 75 percent of the global supply of required raw materials such as lithium, cobalt and manganese is produced by just a few countries, such as China, Congo and Chile. The mining of these raw materials pollutes the environment and aid organizations ask critical questions about local working conditions.

Strategic importance
A new report recently showed that European automakers managed to obtain less than a fifth of the supply of scarce metals needed until 2030. Boelhouwer: “In the future, the majority of cars in Europe will be electrically powered. Then it is important to keep a handle on the raw materials required for this. Battery recycling certainly also has a strategic importance.”

Enough to do
Despite the tireless advance of battery-electric cars, there will still be plenty of 'traditional' recycling work left for dismantling companies in the coming decades. “From 2035 onwards, only emission-free cars may be sold new in the EU. But there will remain enough fossil cars on the road even after that time. The fossil cars sold by 2035 will last at least another twenty years. We consciously say to the dismantling companies in our network: prepare for battery-electric. But there is still plenty to do for the dismantling of fossil-powered cars.”

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  • Gorffly mokua

    18 w

    Hope!💚

    1
    • Rotich Kim

      18 w

      This give hope we need to do more of the same

      1
      • Johannes Luiga

        18 w

        Encouraging

        3
        • DIPANJANA MAULIK

          18 w

          Nicely summarized

          • Munene Mugambi

            18 w

            I'd like to see battery recycling become mainstream as there's lots of EVs lying around after batteries became obsolete

            4
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