In the News

June 23, 2021

Electric car revolution risks mountain of toxic battery waste

Lithium-ion batteries on conveyor belt

Gigafactories’ green push towards net zero emissions could create millions of tonnes of hazardous junk.

June 19, 2021

Original article published in The Telegraph

The site is one proposed home for a UK “gigafactory”, a battery plant that will provide the power source for the millions of electric vehicles (EVs) the Government hopes will one day be built in Britain.

Andy Street, the West Midlands mayor, declared he “will not rest” until the region has the gigafactory it needs.

UK start-up Britishvolt is said to have considered the land for its £2.6bn gigafactory, but turned it down. Other firms reported to be looking at the UK are Slovakia’s Inobat, Samsung and LG Chem. Ford is also considering where to put a battery plant for its upcoming electric Transit Custom van. The Government has pledged £500m to support gigafactory projects.

While it is hoped laying down huge gigafactories that will produce millions of batteries to go in electric vehicles across Europe can cut down on carbon emissions from transport, with it comes a new problem: e-waste.

“The incoming tsunami of end-of-life batteries is still yet to come,” says Ajay Kochhar, chief executive of Li-Cycle, North America’s largest lithium-ion recycling company. “The first generation of electric cars only hit the road a few years ago.”

The raw materials needed to make electric car batteries are scarce. Cobalt, nickel and lithium all have hotly contested supply chains. Recycling these metals could provide a valuable source where there are no local mines.

Full article available in The Telegraph [paywall]