Study warns that new battery design may reduce incentive for effective recycling

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Battery pack of an electric vehicle (Foto: Axion Consulting)

Montreal, Canada — A new report outlining best practices to recapture and recycle the materials used in electric-drive vehicle (EDV) batteries once they reach the end of their service lives has been released by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The study examines how EDV batteries are currently managed at end-of-life across North America to best protect human health and the environment.

The market in North America for electric-drive vehicles has surged over the last 10 years and the supply of end-of-life batteries for EDVs is expected to continue to increase. This represents a vital opportunity to recapture and recycle the valuable materials used in EDV batteries, such as nickel, cobalt, steel, and other components.

The new CEC report, titled „Environmentally Sound Management of End-of-Life Batteries from Electric-Drive Vehicles in North America“, warns that design changes to incorporate less costly materials in EDV batteries need to be assessed to ensure the continuing environmentally sound management of the batteries at end-of-life. According to the report, governments should also be vigilant so that appropriate legislation is in place to support and promote the environmentally sound recycling of these batteries.

This report too characterizes the types, quantities, and composition of batteries used in EDVs in North America, and outlines best practices and technologies to support their environmentally sound management at end of life. It is projected that about 276,000 EDV batteries will reach end-of-life in North America in 2015. By 2030, almost 1.5 million EDV batteries will reach end-of-life. By that time, close to half the end-of-life EDV batteries will be lithium-based, with the remainder being NiMH batteries.

The full study can be downloaded under cec.org.

Source: Commission for Environmental Cooperation