The EV battery recycling market is on the precipice of a huge growth cycle; one that might be nearly limitless. Although Electric Vehicles are well-accepted as a cleaner and greener car option than gas or diesel, once they’re on the road, the manufacturing process for the batteries has often shown to be quite unsustainable. Or at least, it was.
Recently, the technology for recycling used or depleted EV batteries has improved drastically, and the facilities and desire for the process is growing rapidly. So rapidly that the infrastructure might actually be passing the available supply.
According to a recent report by Blue Weave Consulting, the global lithium-ion battery recycling market was at about $6.22 billion in 2022. By 2029, however, the report predicts the market to grow at a CAGR of 14.15 percent, hitting $32.41 billion. The firm attributes the expected growth to increasing demand for EVs, which is leading to the demand for this secondary market in management and recycling of used batteries. That seems pretty evident, but the growing awareness of the environmental impact of improper battery disposal, and the government initiatives designed to ameliorate it, is a key underlying factor.
Recognizing this trend, several companies have sprung up to address this growing need, and they are putting up facilities at an incredible rate. In the US, a Massachusetts-based company recently built a recycling plant in Atlanta, Georgia that is one of the largest in the country at 150,000 square feet. This Ascend Elements facility reportedly takes spent lithium-ion batteries and other scrap from several unnamed suppliers, and grinds them to a mineral-rich dust that can be sold to make new batteries or other components.
Of course, Ascend isn’t the only company recognizing this opportunity. According to a recent announcement, Li-Cycle, a leading lithium-ion battery recycler in North America, and Glencore International AG, a leading producer and recycler of critical minerals for the production of lithium-ion batteries, have signed a Letter of Intent to develop a battery recycling plant in Portovesme, Italy, which would be the largest producer of lithium, nickel, and cobalt from recycled batteries in Europe.
This EV Battery Recycling trend is critical to the success and sustainability of EVs, many experts agree, because the use of reused elements in batteries avoids the huge environmental impact of raw materials mining processes. In fact, in the above-linked article, Ascend company spokesman Thomas Frey is quoted as saying, “Electric vehicle battery materials are infinitely recyclable.”
If that’s true, then the environmental impact of EVs over time will only continue to drop, while the market for recycling is likely to grow at an inversely proportional rate, one would think.