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  • Pieter B.J. Ijzerman

And what about the end of life electric vehicle batteries? They end up in land fill waste piles? No. And it is about money.

People are concerned about end of life electric vehicle batteries: what happens to them? There are wild stories in the press but let us look at some numbers. At this moment, buying lithium that is recycled from existing end of life batteries, is cheaper than refining newly dug up lithium (in general).

The current global capacity for recycling electric vehicle (EV) batteries is relatively limited but is expected to grow significantly due to ongoing and planned projects. As of now, fewer than a dozen facilities globally can recycle EV batteries, with a combined capacity to process less than 100,000 metric tons of material annually. This capacity allows for the recycling of approximately 300,000 EV batteries per year, which is about 10% of the global annual EV sales as of now.

In the United States and Europe, significant developments are underway to enhance recycling capabilities. For instance, various new plants are being constructed to expand capacity significantly by 2027, with some facilities planning to process hundreds of thousands of tonnes per year. Moreover, the total recycling capacity in the U.S. could reach at least 652,293 tons per year by 2030, which would be adequate to recycle about 1.3 million end-of-life EV batteries annually.

This growth in recycling capacity is crucial to address the upcoming surge in battery disposal needs as more EVs reach the end of their life, especially with the increasing adoption of EVs worldwide. The expansion is not only driven by environmental concerns but also by the strategic (financial) need to secure supply chains for critical battery materials like lithium, cobalt, and nickel, which are essential for new battery production.

The recycling of these materials is becoming increasingly important as it can significantly reduce the environmental impact of mining and processing new raw materials.

In the end, Ev's will thus become cheaper to produce than ICE cars. And then it is really over for the combustion engine.


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