As our society makes ever-greater use of electrical storage batteries in a bid to switch over to cleaner energy, this trend is in turn giving rise to a potentially huge market in battery recycling. A recent report by consultancy Grand View Research forecasts that the total value of the global battery recycling market will grow from just under $9 billion in 2016 to over $21 billion in 2025. Given the expected ongoing development of electric vehicles as part of the widespread drive towards more sustainable mobility, recycling of the lithium-ion batteries that power these vehicles is projected to attain a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.3% between 2017 and 2025. These figures – as well as the fact that lead/acid batteries are among the most recycled products in the world – hold out the prospect of a responsible and efficient approach to the management of waste in this industry, leading to a reduction in both CO2 emissions and the environmental impact of hazardous metals. And while Nissan is now offering old car battery models for use in public lighting, other automobile manufacturers such as Ford and Honda have linked up with a group of academics and NGOs to form the Responsible Battery Coalition, whose stated mission is to promote the reuse, recycling and resource recovery of batteries and other energy storage devices. The Coalition has launched a '2 Million Battery Challenge' in a bid to encourage the estimated 12% of all US consumers who have a dead car battery lying around un-recycled at their home to drop it off at a local retailer in return for a store credit.
By Marie-Eléonore Noiré