Battery recycling fuels greener e-mobility

Sustainable Investing (ESG)
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Publié le 24.12.2020 HNEC

The market for electric vehicles has one crucial flaw: tons of unsustainable, environmentally harmful batteries. The solution is now being built in the Nordics

Electric and hybrid cars are expected to account for 90 percent of the global market for lithium-ion batteries by 2025. But what happens to the millions of used batteries when these cars reach the end of their lives?

A report on investments in battery recycling that will enable a sustainable shift from fossil fuels to electric vehicles.


By Alex Lee,

British science journalist and permanent freelancer for Wired UK. We publish his report here as part of our Publishing Partnership with Wired UKatteries may be far better for the environment than fossil fuels, but they still leave a significant CO2 footprint. Only when you solve this problem the green revolution can really deliver on its promises. The mining and refinement of raw materials is estimated to contribute 30 per cent of a battery’s greenhouse gas emissions.


n Västerås, a small town in central Sweden, there is an experimental battery recycling plant. The company Northvolt has set itself the goal to recover the raw materials from a used battery and reuse them for new energy storage devices. Northvolt was founded in 2016 by two former Tesla managers. If they succeed in achieving a breakthrough in battery recycling, this would – provided it is scalable – be a milestone in overcoming the climate crisis. The plant has been active since the summer and is already producing functioning test batteries.


The 5 pillars of this recycling success

Profit margins “powered by recycling”

Pressure from cleaner, greener rivals in Europe and elsewhere could change China’s dominant position in the market for electric vehicles batteries. Anderson predicts that, in the near future, every battery factory could have a recycling plant attached to it, whether it builds one itself or has a commercial partnership with a nearby facility. And the reason might not even be because of the carbon footprint. “It will happen more or less automatically, whatever people are saying about their green credentials,” he says. “It’s on manufacturers margins. It makes sense to recover production scrap, or failed cells that never pass quality control.”

Come 2030, Northvolt hopes that 50 per cent of the raw materials that it uses to make its batteries will come from recycled material, by which point it aims to have 25 per cent of the European market. “We are not picking the raisin from the cookie as we say in Sweden,” says Nehrenheim. “We are not only talking about carbon footprints or recycling of cobalt. We are talking about ensuring that everyone understands what they are buying and about how to evaluate renewable energy in the entire supply chain.”



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Who are we? How do we live today? And how will the digitization change our lives? How the future will unfold is preoccupying society more than ever, with engineers, doctors, politicians—each one of us, in fact—seeking answers. This article on battery recycling is one of many contributions that shed light on the topic “sustainable investing” from a new, inspiring perspective. We are publishing them here as part of our series “Insights”.

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