Battery Recycling Poised for Growth Study Finds

Demand for new batteries expected to increase 580% by 2030, according to IHS Markit
Inside of a car
Photograph: Shutterstock

LONDON A multitude of supply, demand, cost and sustainability conditions are poised to drive a rapid expansion of the battery recycling industry, more than tripling its capacity by 2030, according to a new analysis by IHS Markit, an information and analytics firm based in London.

Large waves of end-of-life batteries (batteries at the end of their usable life) are set to begin this year, creating a sizeable repository of recyclable material. IHS Markit expects that over 500,000 tons (57 GWh) of batteries will reach their end-of-life point in 2020. That figure is expected to rise to 1.2 million tons (121 GWh) in 2025 and reach 3.5 million tons (350 GWh) in 2030—a seven-fold increase.

Meanwhile, the continued electrification of the automobile is set to push demand for new batteries to new heights—from 250 GWh in 2020, to over 1,700 GWh in 2030 and nearly 5,000 GWh per year in 2050.

“We are already seeing a trend towards greater localization of battery production, as governments look to maximize value creation in this high growth sector. Particularly in Europe, where there are not large deposits of raw materials for battery production, recycling will be key to enabling the development for local supply chains for battery manufacturing facilities,” said George Hilton, energy storage senior analyst for IHS Markit.

Recycled materials currently make up a small proportion of the battery supply chain. However, the increasing supply of end-of-life batteries and growing demand will enable up to 15% (180 kt) of Lithium, 7.5% (450 kt) of Nickel and 43% (930 kt) of Cobalt from recycled sources to be used in new batteries by 2030, IHS Markit says.

This would necessitate a more than tripling of global battery recycling capacity, from approximately 1000 kt/year (1 million tons) in 2020 to 3500 kt/year (3.5 million tons) by 2030.

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