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Behind the Scenes: The myths, aha! Learning moments and recommendations from the recently published EV Battery Management Primer

After a recently published announcement regarding a new report highlighting opportunities to harmonize the developing EV battery management ecosystem across Canada, Jeff Haltrecht, Executive at Call2Recycle, North America’s largest battery recycling program, provides Auto Recycling World readers with a deeper understanding of the points raised.


Behind the Scenes: The myths, aha! Learning moments and recommendations from the recently published EV Battery Management Primer p
Jeff Haltrecht

The auto dismantler & recycler community is referenced frequently in the Primer “EV Battery Management at End-of-Vehicle Life,” and for good reason. Today, dismantlers have, on average, between 10 and 50 Electric Vehicle (EV) batteries in their yards at any given time. 10 years from now, this number is forecasted to grow five times to range between 50 and 250 per yard (depending on yard size), and this will still be considered the early stages in the EV era.

The propulsion system in the vehicles we drive are changing, and with that comes a need for many support industries to adapt. However, the questions often asked are – adapt to what?  What are we fitting into?

Providing answers to these questions is part of why the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA) and Call2Recycle proactively undertook the research and writing of the Primer. We saw the need for a foundational document that companies and government leaders could turn to for information and clarity on the EV battery management process. Our hope is that with clarity comes the ability to make decisions on adapting and participating in this new industry process.

The Primer took two years to produce because we knew accuracy was more important than speed. The authors purposefully approached the task with no preconceived ideas of any desired outcomes.

Through this process of gathering real-world information, we came to see a pattern of myths that needed dispelling, learning moments to share, and a series of recommendations that would help EV batteries flow more freely, and at lower costs, all under one national policy.

Here is an inside look at a few of the misconceptions that had become established and that we sought to dispel:

Myth: There is limited circularity in EV battery industry

In reality, all EV battery management pathways lead to recycling. New cathode manufacturing plants are being established in Canada and the United States to finish closing the loop back to new EV battery cells manufactured on this continent.

Myth: Without oversight EV batteries will end up in landfill

In reality, this is highly unlikely. EV battery packs are too big to fit in landfills without someone noticing. Plus, existing Canadian regulations help prevent this from happening.

Myth: There’s Not Enough Capacity to Recycle All EV Batteries

In reality, there is capacity, and it is growing. Currently, there are 12 operational battery recycling sites in North America, four of which are in Canada. Add to this total four remanufacturers and four repurposers.

Over time, this will prove increasingly helpful to auto dismantlers & recyclers. With EV batteries not going to landfill, they will most likely either be at dealerships or auto dismantlers & recyclers at end-of-vehicle life.

The battery industry needs the EV batteries to be recycled in order to extract the original metals for making new cathodes and new battery cells, thus a downstream future demand.

On to key findings – the aha! moments. These are important items to know as we each decide on how to participate in the EV battery management industry most effectively. The three leading takeaways we found are:

  • EV battery diagnostics is occurring at four different levels within the battery. Diagnostics will eventually permit battery holders to make better decisions on if that particular battery should be remanufactured, repurposed, or recycled.
  • Battery health certificates are being piloted as a communication tool to explain the health status of the battery. This will eventually be useful when looking to purchase EV vehicles at auction.
  • Freight costs are generally between 60% and 90% of the total cost of managing EV batteries at end-of-vehicle life. The other two cost components being shipping materials (pallets, containers or fire-retardant materials) and recycling costs (usually a cost today, but in some instances, it will be revenue).

Each of these will have implications on the value of vehicles procured at auction and where the EV batteries are sent further downstream. Today they are valuable to know for business planning purposes.

All this informed our recommendations to our partners throughout the EV battery management ecosystem. With freight being 60% to 90% of the cost of handling batteries – let alone the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions tied to these movements – reducing unnecessary EV battery travel must be a priority.

Many of the recommendations, when implemented together, are designed to have batteries flow more freely and in a manner that has reduced GHG impact and lower total costs. This can be achieved by aligning policy nationally, increasing information sharing and making all five EV battery management pathways available for battery holders to access: Repair, Remanufacturing, Resale as is, Repurposing, and Recycling.

There is one other important recommendation that must be mentioned: safety and training. EV batteries are almost always safe, with care being taken in their handling. The authors felt it important that a threshold of safety and related training be established for any person and/or organization responsible for handling these batteries. A safe workplace is a healthy workplace.

Safe travels.

Electric Vehicle Battery Management at End-of-Vehicle Life:  A Primer for Canada’ is a joint publication between Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association and Call2Recycle and can be downloaded from the EV Resources section of Call2Recycle’s website.  While written from a Canadian perspective, many elements also apply to the United States market.  For Section 4 on Canadian regulations, this U.S. regulatory document produced in conjunction with Suppliers Partnership can be referenced. Jeff Haltrecht is an Executive with Call2Recycle.