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‘Beware EV battery recycling bubble’

Respected commodities journalist Adam Minter has poured cold water on the current drive towards the recycling end-of life electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

In a Bloomberg article headlined ‘EV Battery Recycling Has Boomed Too Soon’, Minter argues the boom is ‘starting to look like a bubble’. He writes that the challenge for US EV makers is that batteries to power their transport require metals mined in Congo, Indonesia and other emerging markets when they want more sustainable materials.

In a subsequent LinkedIn post, he says: ‘It sounds great: in the US we’ll have a sustainable electric vehicle revolution manufactured from recycled resources – like batteries. I’m all for it. But there’s a problem – where will we get the batteries to recycle?’

He says that, in the US, the current answer to his question is nowhere because there are not enough batteries to recycle and that is unlikely to change for at least a decade.

‘Meanwhile, private and public money continues to flow into EV battery recycling, creating capacity for something that doesn’t exist. It is, I declare, an EV battery recycling bubble.’

Minter believes the answer is more mining. Until then, he argues, recyclers should invest in better tech. ‘But nobody should have any illusions about what that tech can accomplish without something to recycle,’ he concludes.

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