Electric Cars will Require Massive Increases in Battery Recycling

With more drivers making the switch to electric and hybrid vehicles, we are beginning to experience a reduction in fuel emissions. This is allowing for a cleaner atmosphere. Unfortunately, the massive increase of required batteries could have a potentially negative effect on our environment.

It is estimated that the batteries in electric and hybrid vehicles will make up 90% of the market for lithium-ion batteries in 2025. This means that with an increasing demand for electric cars, the mining of these chemicals will need to be increased significantly. Lithium-ion batteries are already commonly used in our phones, laptops and other rechargeable electronic devices. The batteries used in electric cars are significantly bigger, using a larger amount of resources such as lithium and cobalt. The problem these batteries pose is that they will eventually need to be disposed of, presenting recycling companies with a tough challenge.

The rise of electric driving will likely result in tighter regulations specifying how car batteries are disposed of. When put in landfills, batteries can leak, causing toxic chemicals to enter the soil. Therefore, the batteries must be recycled, allowing the chemicals to be disposed of correctly and the scrap metal to be reused.

The problem with car battery recycling:

A key problem with recycling car batteries is that different manufacturers use different chemicals and production methods, making it difficult for recycling organisations to standardise the process. As companies compete for increase vehicle range, we will continue to see different batteries in electric vehicles, all requiring a specific recycling method.

If recycling companies cannot keep up with the many different battery types being given to them, it is inevitable that car batteries will be disposed of incorrectly, causing damage to our environment. Therefore it is important that a standardised recycling method is developed that suits all types of batteries in electric cars.

We hope that eventually, all (or most) vehicle manufacturers will agree on a method of manufacturing batteries, allowing for the batteries to be recycled with minimal effort needed.

Tesla factories to recycle car batteries:

In July 2016, Tesla’s founder Elon Musk stated that their factory will be “fully powered by clean energy when complete & include battery recycling”. Hopefully, other companies follow this idea and consider recycling of materials when manufacturing them. This would allow for improved efficiency in recycling, as each company would only have to focus on the battery types that they manufactured.

In conclusion, the rise of electric driving will provide clear benefits to our environment. However, a simple, standardised battery recycling method needs to be created to ensure that the effects of electric cars on our environment remain positive.