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Battery recyclers largely optimistic: material flow is ‘sufficient’

‘Overall, existing recycling capacity exceeds the quantity collected, resulting in fierce competition among battery recyclers. The profitability margin is therefore under pressure,’ according to Alain Vassart. Speaking at the International Congress for Battery Recycling (ICBR) in Berlin, he confirmed the boom in e-cars sold while stressing that recycling figures relating to such batteries are ‘vague’ as well as ‘contradictory’.

‘We are open to reviewing the calculation method for the collection rate of secondary consumer batteries,’ said Alain Vassart at last week’s ICBR gathering in Berlin. ‘The net result needs to be a higher quantity of batteries collected for recycling than previously,’ the General Secretary of the European Battery Recycling Association (EBRA) urged several times during the two-day conference.

Widespread confidence

Just like last year, the event organiser ICM conducted a survey to measure how the battery recycling sector is doing. The barometer results showed that there is widespread confidence among battery recyclers that the volume of waste batteries will remain high in the coming months. Delegates generally agreed (70%) that industry developments are currently and will be ‘positive’ in the near future.

Approximately 50% of participants have a ‘positive’ opinion of the current business situation. A further 30% assess the current business situation as ‘unchanged’ from the previous year. One in five is not satisfied with the current business situation.

The ‘Industry Barometer ICBR 2018’ also reveals that the proportion of delegates who expect ‘constant positive development’ was approximately 35%, up slightly from last year’s results. The number of pessimists is roughly one in five. Almost 300 battery professionals attended the 23rd edition of the annual event, which is the highest number of visitors since the ICBR’s launch.

‘Sufficient, not abundant’

‘All in all, the survey shows that the majority of players in the battery recycling industry are confident,’ concludes Jean-Pol Wiaux, chairman of the ICBR Steering Committee. ‘However, the results should not obscure the fact that in many cases the flow of used batteries is sufficient but not abundant,’ he adds.

Wiaux points out that price fluctuations can quickly lead to a change in the volume flow. ‘The greater the efficiency of collection and recycling, the greater the contribution that battery recycling can make to the circular economy. Therefore, it’s necessary to harmonise existing EU-wide targets and definitions and their enforcement to secure a level playing field,’ the chairman comments.

Stay tuned: a detailed review of ICM’s battery recycling conference will be published in the next issue of Recycling International.

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