Electric cars are sometimes criticized for being less eco-friendly than they seem. The vehicles won’t last forever, and one day will need to be thrown away.
Batteries in particular can be harmful to the environment when dumped into landfills because they could leach harmful chemicals and metals into the soil. The President of Retriev Technologies, Joseph Acker, argues that in fact the batteries can easily be recycled.
One reason they will be so easy to recycle is because the components are in high demand. Lithium in particular has a high value, and this year several hundred thousand tons will be used for manufacturing. It is used in devices that have recharging batteries like laptops and cell phones, so demand is only expected to increase in the future. Unfortunately, currently it is cheaper to mine lithium than to extract it from recycled material.
Luckily, nickel, cobalt and certain other metals have value right now.
Additionally, not all electric vehicle batteries have lithium in their batteries. The alternatives contain cadmium, which can’t be thrown into landfills at all, and so are viewed as being even more harmful.
So how do you recycle electric car batteries? At the moment, the situation looks a little bit grim. Currnetly, Acker’s company, Retriev Technologies, is the best place to send your electric vehicle batteries, as they specialize in recycling batteries. Car dealerships will properly get rid of them, too.
There are already projects in the works to address how to recycle electric car batteries, so soon it won’t be an uncertain task. For instance, the United States Department of Energy recently gave $9.5 million to a company called Toxco to construct a electric vehicle battery recycling plant for lithium-ion models. Tesla and other manufacturers have been sending them battery packs already, so the future looks bright.