In an article in the South China Morning Post, market observers said that more EV makers in China will undertake the recycling of battery packs as Beijing pushes them to build facilities to tackle waste and stamp out a growing source of pollution.
Rachel Miu, auto analyst with DBS said:
“The landscape of powered battery recycling will definitely change by 2025 and EV makers have to start making plans now if they haven’t as yet.” She added: “We are not seeing a big amount for now, but it is known for sure that it will grow along with the widespread adoption of cars powered by battery packs.”
According to Greenpeace, a total of 7.05 million tonnes of EV lithium-ion batteries are expected to go offline between 2021 and 2030, weighing about 1,000 times the Eiffel Tower.
With China overtaking the US as the world’s largest market for EVs in 2015, the mainland should see the first of retired batteries now as the lifespan of an EV battery ranges from five to eight years.
Hans Eric Melin, managing director of Circular Energy Storage Research, a London-based consultancy focused on lithium-ion battery life cycle management said:
“There have been different predictions about 200,000 tonnes of batteries [retired] in 2020 but the volume is far from that.”
Mainland China lacks a recycling system for regular car batteries, with most used batteries collected by small, unlicensed vendors who recklessly dispose of them after selling the lead to other manufacturers.
The government is keen to prevent unchecked and unregulated disposal of lithium-ion batteries as the extraction of lithium, cobalt and other materials could harm the environment.
EV makers including Xpeng said they are fully aware of the significance and potential of the business, but it would be some time before they can lay out detailed plans.
More EV makers are expected to join after Premier Li Keqiang underscored the importance of recycling EV batteries in the latest government report presented to the National People’s Congress in Beijing on the 5th March.
The report said that as the uptake of electric cars increases in the country, “more car parks, and electric vehicle battery charging and swapping facilities will be built, and the system for recycling power batteries will have to be developed at a faster pace”.
Beijing issued its first set of industry guidelines for EV battery recycling in 2018, announcing a list of five companies certified to engage in battery recycling that was expanded to 22 companies in January.
With reference to the building of China’s battery recycling ecosystem, Circular Energy Storage’s Melin said:
“In many ways, China has a very modern system, much better than most other countries, including the European Union. China also is host to some of the best recyclers in the world like GEM, Ganzhou Highpower and Brunp.” Melin added:
“In China, batteries are recycled because there is a demand for the materials in the battery value chain, while in Europe and the US they are recycled because we believe it’s waste.”
Other market observers believe that as the growing number of EVs pushes up prices for materials used in batteries, such as lithium and cobalt, and recycling could be the key to keeping costs down.
Davis Zhang, a senior executive at Suzhou Hazardtex, an energy-solution provider that supplies specialised vehicle batteries said:
“Recycling can be an important part of assemblers and battery makers’ businesses in line with the swelling business scale.” He added: “With the key materials recycled, big costs on batteries can be saved.”
And with China pledging to become carbon neutral by 2060, recycling of EV batteries takes on an important dimension.
DBS’ Miu said:
“Clearly the government has realised that if the EV batteries are not properly dealt with, displacing petrol-powered cars with EVs is still not that environment friendly.”
Source South China Morning Post www.scmp.com/business/china-business