September 13, 2021
Original article published in Clean Technica
Li-Cycle has announced plans to build a new lithium-ion battery recycling facility in Alabama. This will be its fourth commercial lithium-ion battery recycling facility and will be located in Tuscaloosa, AL. Previously, the company had a base plan for three North American facilities, or Spokes. These are planned for Kingston, Ontario; Rochester, New York; and Gilbert, Arizona, with the latter being in advanced execution stages.
The company noted that the southeastern US is emerging as a critical region for the lithium-ion battery supply chain since both battery manufacturers and automotive OEMs have operations in the region. This will lead to the generation of large quantities of battery manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries that will need to be recycled.
The company also noted that Univar Solutions will be an anchor battery feed supply customer for the new facility, and this news followed the recent news of the two companies’ onsite partnership to provide waste management solutions for EVs and lithium-ion battery manufacturing.
Once the Spoke 4 facility is completed, it will have an initial capacity of up to 5,000 tonnes of battery manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries annually. This will bring Li-Cycle’s total North American recycling capacity to 25,000 tonnes per year. The new Tuscaloosa site is also being developed to accommodate a second planned 5,000-tonne processing line. This will increase capacity at the new site to up to 10,000 tonnes per year; adding an additional 5,000 tonnes to the company’s total North American annual recycling capacity.
The new facility should start operating by the middle of 2022 and is expected to create 30+ new jobs. Local stakeholders supporting the execution of the new facility include the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association, the State of Alabama, the Alabama Department of Commerce, and the Tuscaloosa County Economic Development Authority.
Tim Johnston, Co-founder, and Executive Chairman of Li-Cycle stated, “Our new facility in Alabama positions us well to meet the growing demand for lithium-ion battery recycling. Originally, we had planned on rolling out three commercial Spoke facilities in North America over the next five years, with a total recycling capacity of 20,000 tonnes per year. However, demand for lithium-ion battery recycling has continued to outperform our forecasts and we are now forecasting total recycling capacity of 30,000 tonnes per year. This facility is essential in filling a recycling gap in the southeastern United States. Like our Arizona Spoke, we expect the new facility to have the capability to process entire vehicle battery packs, without dismantling.”
Michael Goebel, President, and CEO, Mercedes-Benz, US International, Inc. (MBUSI) also added thoughts. MBUSI is working with Univar Solutions on end-of-life solutions for lithium-ion batteries. Goebel said, “We have a responsibility to not only manufacture vehicles and batteries but to be good corporate citizens in the choices we make to protect our environment and the community around us. We welcome the partnership between Univar Solutions and Li-Cycle and the strong commitment of our partners here in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to push a sustainable future for mobility.”
Stephen Molica, Vice President of Services for Univar Solutions Inc., spoke of the company’s commitment of bringing sustainable solutions. “At Univar Solutions, we’re committed to bringing more sustainable solutions for a better world, leveraging our expertise to help our customers and suppliers make progress toward their sustainability goals. We are thrilled to work together with industry leaders like Li-Cycle and MBUSI to make a difference in lithium-ion battery recycling,” he said.
“We look forward to further assisting MBUSI with best-in-class sustainability solutions through our OnSite Services team, including supporting the addition of Li-Cycle’s new facility in Alabama.”
Ron Davis, President of the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association, said, “Li-Cycle’s decision to locate in Alabama helps position our state on the leading edge as our industry enters the era of electric vehicle production. With its innovative technology and process, Li-Cycle is bringing a capability that will offer the auto industry a solution to what will become an issue of critical importance. I am very excited to see Li-Cycle’s ground-breaking contributions to our growing Alabama automotive industry.”
Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama had some thoughts about the popularity of EVs and the critical need for recycling lithium-ion batteries. “With the popularity of electric vehicles accelerating, it’s critical that old batteries are recycled — and Li-Cycle’s technologies make that possible. Li-Cycle’s selection of Tuscaloosa for its network of recycling facilities means not only jobs in Alabama but also a positive for the environment.”
Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said, “With EV production set to start in Alabama in 2022, Li-Cycle’s Tuscaloosa recycling facility will ensure that Alabama plays another important role in the lifecycle of the batteries powering electric vehicles. This project addresses the battery repurposing proposition that must also be a part of the sustainability solution that EVs offer.”