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California ready for big wave of ‘retired’ EV batteries

Redwood Materials is launching what it calls the ‘most comprehensive’ electric vehicle (EV) battery recycling programme in California. Ford and Volvo Cars are supporting the initiative.

The new state-wide scheme will accept all lithium-ion (li-ion) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. Redwood Materials hopes other car makers will follow in Ford and Volvo’s tyre tracks and join this dedicated effort.

The recycler plans to work directly with dealers and dismantlers in California to identify and recover end-of-life packs. It will then package and transport these batteries to its facilities in neighbouring northern Nevada before returning high quality, recycled materials back into domestic cell production.

A total of 6 GWh of li-ion batteries or the equivalent of 60 000 EVs come through Redwood’s doors every year.

‘We’ve been ramping up our processes in preparation for the first wave of these vehicles to come off our roads and we’re ready to support the battery market in identifying and creating pathways to collect the battery packs,’ says ceo JB Straubel.

‘California has always been a leader in the transition to electric transportation and, as a result, is the oldest and has one of the largest electric vehicle markets on Earth. When the first major wave of EVs begins to retire from roads, it will happen in California,’ he adds. 

Over time, as end-of-life packs grow in scale, the company expects li-ion batteries to become valuable assets to help make EVs more sustainable and affordable. 

‘Ultimately, our aim is to create the most effective and sustainable closed-loop system that physics and chemistry will allow for end-of-life battery packs to re-enter the domestic supply chain,’ Straubel notes. ‘We look forward to working with the state of California, dismantlers, dealers, and other automakers. We hope to be a resource, sharing our results and learnings as we go.’

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