Recycling Today JAN 2024 / by AHMAD GHAHREMAN / Read original article

In recent years, the automotive recycling industry has faced a paradigm shift with the emergence of electric vehicles (EVs). This transformation has brought forth fresh challenges and introduced new recycling streams, altering the way end-of-life vehicles are managed.

The shifting value of engine parts

For many years, catalytic converters have been one of the most valuable parts of internal combustion engines (ICEs) because of the valuable platinum group metals they contain. Auto recyclers pick catalytic converters from ICEs to sell separately for recycling. Although not as high-priced and high-profit as catalytic converters, auto recyclers also sell starters, alternators and other components of ICEs as scrap for their copper value.

But the global transition to EVs is reshaping this landscape—changing which engine parts the auto recycling community covets most.  While EVs don’t have catalytic converters, their batteries contain even more valuable metals, such as lithium, nickel and cobalt. Auto recyclers are learning how to handle and assess these batteries, and, in time, EV battery components likely will surpass ICE cars’ catalytic converters in value and profitability.

Rare earth elements: A new treasure mine

Beyond their battery materials, EVs and hybrid vehicles introduce another set of valuable, recyclable metals: rare earth elements (REEs).

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