Call2Recycle, an Atlanta-based consumer battery stewardship and recycling program, celebrated the fact that it recovered 8.4 million pounds of batteries that its collection partners, stewards and consumers recycled throughout the U.S. in 2020. The program reports that figure was an 11 percent increase from what it recycled in 2019.
Future battery recycling opportunities
Christensen adds that RBC is also working on a number of projects and initiatives surrounding electric vehicle (EV) batteries, including the recovery of those materials. He says many automakers predict EV sales to grow a lot in the next decade.
“We have this massive growth that we are expecting to see with electric vehicles,” he says. “Ford announced [last week] that they are going to go all-electric in Europe by 2030, and they invested $1 billion to do that in Germany. Along with that comes the challenge of all these batteries coming into service and then figuring out what to do with them when they go out of service.”
He adds that RBC is working to develop a responsible battery index that will characterize different batteries for their life cycle practices, providing details on how the batteries are made, constructed and what recovery of that material looks like. The organization hopes to have that indexing system up in 2022.
Additionally, he says RBC is working with Chicago-based Argonne National Laboratory’s ReCell Center, a lithium-ion battery research and development initiative launched in 2019, to ensure batteries are designed for maximum recyclability. He says, “We’re looking at developing the business case for closed-loop recycling systems for next-generation batteries, similar to what we have already for lead-acid batteries. We want full recyclability for these batteries, especially because right now recovered cathode material is expensive. We want to look at solutions that lower the cost for recycled materials used in batteries.”
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