The Race to Recycle: Recyclers clamouring for industry control ahead of coming EV battery influx

Toronto, Ontario — The issue of electric vehicle battery recycling received some mainstream exposure in the New York Times this week, as several members of the automotive aftermarket spoke out about the deluge of dead EV batteries bound for recycling yards sooner than many previously expected.

Nick Castillo, manager of an LKQ plant in California, told reporters that when it comes to the hefty electronic components already beginning to pile up at his workplace, “We’re just getting ready.

“We know it’s eventually going to take over—it’s going to be the future,” he said.

Many of the voices featured in the piece spoke to the potential benefits to consumers, largely in terms of cost, that could be borne from a more robust “circular” recycling industry, that would see precious metals extracted from depleted batteries and reintegrated into the vehicle production chain.

The article made reference to Canadian recycling firm, Li-Cycle, who operates plants and collection centres in Ontario, as well as several U.S. states.

At these plants, scrap battery components are broken down into a granular substance called “black mass,” from which precious metal materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel can be extracted.

Li-Cycle is proving to be a leader in the OEM side of the Canadian recycling industry, a fact bolstered by the company’s 2021 partnership with General Motors-affiliated Ultium Cells to repurpose the automaker’s end-of-life batteries.

The company has also received a generous $300 million in total investment from mining giant Glencore and Koch Industries, which surely helps.

“We were fortunate that we took the path that we did, when we did,” said Li-Cycle co-founder Ajay Kochhar.

“This is an industry that does require, just like battery-making, a good amount of capital.”

The New York Times’ full story on the current state of the EV battery recycling industry can be found here.


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