Lithium-ion batteries have had a poor recycling record for years, however a new report shows lithium-ion battery recycling is advancing much more than we think.
While the production of lithium-ion batteries is set to explode in coming years, collection and recycling rates range between 2 and 11 per cent across European countries, as well as Australia and the US.
However, Circular Energy Storage founder Hans Eric Melin said in the State-of-the-art in reuse and recycling of lithium-ion batteries report that lithium-ion battery recycling was happening on a much larger scale than many people realised.
The report highlighted that western research rarely used new research coming out of China and South Korea, where the majority of lithium-ion batteries were recycled.
Circular Energy Storage estimated that as much as 97,000 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries were recycled in 2018, of which 67,000 tonnes in China and 18,000 tonnes in South Korea.
Instead, many research papers and the media continued to refer to an average recycling rate of “around 5 per cent”, which dated back to 2010 data from Friends of the Earth.
Lithium-ion batteries typically take longer to reach the recycling stage than other batteries because they have longer lifespans and are more often built into equipment like laptops.
These batteries are increasingly reused in new applications, or second life solutions, to make power banks and other electronic devices.
The report said there were more than 50 companies that recycled lithium-ion batteries on some scale globally, with more than 30 located in China compared to about 10 companies in Europe.
By 2025, Circular Energy Storage predicts the recycling of lithium-ion batteries will reach almost 400,000 tonnes across the globe.
Call in the battery recycling specialists
Lithium-ion batteries have become a popular energy storage choice in new electronics because lithium is a lighter material that provides a higher energy capacity.
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