Electric and hybrid vehicles are recording an enormous growth rate of 40 percent, and the trend is rising. Their disposal and recycling – especially the handling of the drive battery – is not adequately regulated.
The Association of Austrian Waste Management Companies (VOEB) is now calling for the urgent adjustment of the necessary legal framework for dealing with old electric vehicles (EVs).
The Tesla accident in Tyrol in October 2019 brought the topic into the media for the first time: How are electric vehicles safely and professionally disposed of and recycled? And not just after an accident, but in general? At the beginning of 2020, it was agreed with the manufacturers and importers concerned that the Austrian shredder companies would only take over old electric vehicles (E-AFZ) without a drive battery. Experts in specialist workshops are now removing the battery and the “empty” E-AFZ are handed over to the shredder companies for further recycling. However, given the increasing sales of e-vehicles and hybrid vehicles, this interim solution is not sufficient.
Gaby Jüly, President of VOEB said:
“We urgently need to adapt the legal framework. Both the handling of old and damaged electric cars and the recycling of batteries must be subject to uniform regulations that make sense in the long term and are valid across the EU. “
EU battery ordinance is being amended
At the European level, work is being done to amend the battery ordinance. It should also regulate the handling of batteries in electric vehicles. In the future, their drive batteries should be typed like vehicles and the origin of the individual components should be certified. Every single battery should be recorded from production to disposal and thus a 100% collection rate should be achieved. Furthermore, individual components of car batteries should consist of sustainable secondary raw materials, the VOEB calls for 12% recycled cobalt, 85% lead, 4% lithium and 4% nickel by 2030. Another goal is a recycling rate of 65 percent of the components when recycling the battery to reach.
Training and information
The professional handling of old electric or hybrid vehicles must be ensured in the car workshops.
Engineer, Walter Kletzmayr from ARGE Shredder said:
“On the part of the economy there are already some initiatives in this direction, but they have to be bundled. This is the only way we can close the current training gap across the EU and create uniform standards for the professional, safe and sustainable disposal of old electric vehicles.”
”Emergency and rescue workers must also be comprehensively informed about the recovery, transport, interim storage and dismantling of accident electric vehicles pose no problem. “If the components of the drive battery fuse with other parts of the vehicle in an accident, the risk of fire is enormous and very dangerous for the emergency services involved.”
What to do with the battery
The battery of a purely electrically powered vehicle can weigh up to 500 kg. Removing such a battery is therefore not child’s play – not only because of its weight but because its 400 volts are life-threatening. Removing the battery in hybrid vehicles is a bit easier, with a maximum of 60 volts and 50 kg, one or two people can do this together. After they have been removed, the batteries in e-vehicles are recycled by using them in a so-called “second life” to store electricity in stationary areas. If this is not the case, raw materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel contained in batteries can be recovered and used as secondary raw materials in further manufacturing processes. Jüly: “If we want electromobility, then we also have to think about it,
About the VOEB
The Association of Austrian Waste Management Companies (VOEB) is the voluntary representation of interests of the commercially run waste management companies in Austria. The association currently represents over 250 member companies and thus represents two thirds – measured in terms of turnover or employees – of the private waste and resource management. The industry, directly and indirectly, employs around 43,000 people, disposes of around two-thirds of all waste generated in Austria in 1,100 high-tech plants and generates sales in the order of 4 billion euros per year.