With electric vehicle sales picking up — EV sales were up 60 percent for the first quarter of 2022 and made up a record 4.6 percent of all U.S. sales — the auto industry and environmental groups are taking a harder look at what to do with the batteries in those cars once they reach the end of their life.
Recycling for traditional batteries can be a mess. Polypropylene from cases have been relatively easy to recycle and turn back into new battery casings, but the lead and other chemicals in those battery have proven far more challenging. (The Tampa Bay Times won a Pulitzer Prize this week for its coverage of the health hazards related to lead battery recycling.)
Lithium-ion batteries pose a different kind of challenge, because the chemistry for them includes valuable materials like lithium that are important to recover and use again. The plastics used in separator film and structural frames tend to get less attention related to recycling, although Singapore-based Ace Green Recycling Inc. said earlier this week it will build a plant in Texas to reclaim 15 million pounds of plastics each year from lead and lithium-ion batteries.
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation on May 11 introduced what it termed a framework to "support and sustain a domestic circular economy for EV batteries, create manufacturing jobs, boost U.S. energy security and reduce reliance on critical mineral imports."
Investments in EV batteries are expected to hit $515 billion by the end of this decade, our sister paper Automotive News writes.