ICBR 2017: Battery recycling industry sends positive economic signals

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22th International Congress Battery Recycling ICBR 2017 (Source: ICM)

Lisbon, Portugal — According to the findings of a recently conducted survey, the majority of participants sees both the current situation and the business outlook in a favourable light. In particular, representatives of the battery recycling industry are satisfied with the volumes being generated and the majority also view the current economic situation as positive.

The synopsis is based on a questionnaire arranged by the ICBR Steering Committee among the participants of the annual ICBR industry meeting. The results are summarised in the Industry Barometer ICBR 2017 for the battery recycling sector, which was published for the first time at this year’s congress in Lisbon. Although the results are not representative, they do meaningfully reflect a consensus of opinion across the sector.

Current market volumes

Among others, participants at the ICBR 2017 were asked to evaluate current business activity – with regard to both volumes being generated and the business situation as a whole. Above all, the questionnaire shows that participants are largely satisfied with current market volumes:

  • Around 70 per cent of responses were in the category „positive“ and they assess volumes currently generated as favourable.
  • The remaining 30 per cent regard the current business situation as unchanged. The basis of comparison is quantities generated over the last two years.
  • None of the participants who responded stated that volumes currently being generated have dropped.

Current economic situation

The results of the questionnaire regarding the current economic situation were also good, albeit with some reservations:

  • 40 per cent of questionnaire participants described the current economic situation as favourable.
  • Around 30 per cent stated that the economic situation has remained unchanged over the last two years.
  • A further 28 per cent described the business situation as unfavourable.

Participants stated pressure on treatment fees as part of the reason for their assessment of the situation. Further factors named as having an impact on business were transportation costs, the prices of raw materials, and the changing composition of end-of-life batteries.

Future volumes generated

Moreover, the findings of the questionnaire suggest that the business situation is likely to continue improving in the future. When asked about trends going forward, questionnaire responders were highly optimistic about volumes likely to be generated:

  • 85 per cent of participants stated that they expect volumes generated to increase moving forward.
  • The remaining 15 per cent expect quantities to remain unchanged.
  • None of the participants expect a future decrease in volumes.

Future economic situation

The outlook for the future economic situation is also optimistic:

  • 56 per cent of participants expect economic developments to be positive.
  • Only 8 per cent anticipate an unchanged business situation.
  • 36 per cent expect the economic situation to develop unfavourably.

Participants were also asked about the factors that impact their business situation and outlook either positively or negatively. Here, the transportation and treatment of lithium-ion batteries play a significant role. Many actors are concerned about the low return rate of end-of-life lithium-ion batteries and the increasing amount of red tape involved. On the other hand, the growing importance of electric mobility and the development of raw materials prices are having a positive influence.

Further efforts are needed

The opinions of participants regarding legal framework conditions varied greatly. 39 per cent of those surveyed evaluated current framework conditions negatively, whereas 32 per cent saw them as positive. A further 29 per cent were of the opinion that framework conditions have not changed over the last two years.

One of the points criticised by questionnaire responders was the lack of harmonised legislation aimed at creating a level playing field for all market participants. The simplification of cross-border waste shipments is also a point of contention.

„The findings of the questionnaire show that further efforts are needed to strengthen the positive mood prevailing in the battery recycling sector,“ said Jean-Pol Wiaux, Chairman of the ICBR Steering Committee, in conclusion. „Furthermore, the results clearly point out that, above all, electric mobility will be one of the main topics driving the future of our industry. We will continue to follow this trend closely, just like all other factors that have an impact on battery recycling.“

Source: ICM AG