Veolia plans vast UK electric car battery recycling hub 

Mike Askew


French waste management giant Veolia, has revealed plans to build a state-of-the-art battery recycling hub in the Midlands. The firm has earmarked a site in Minworth near Sutton Coldfield as the location for the new facility that is scheduled to be operational by 2024. 

Veolia claims that the factory will be big enough to process 20 per cent of the UK’s retired electric car batteries when it opens, and is expected to be first of many facilities that will serve the growing need for battery recycling. 

In a statement, Veolia confirmed that it would initially discharge and dismantle batteries before completing its separation recycling processes to recover the numerous raw materials used in battery manufacture. These include cobalt, nickel, lithium and manganese. Aluminium and copper are also recovered from the retired packs.  

Although the process is far more labour intensive and expensive that mining for raw materials, Veolia claims that its recycled materials require 50 per cent less water and have half the greenhouse gas emissions than newly mined materials. 

Electric car battery recycling is regarded as crucial to widespread adoption and acceptance of electric cars. Although almost all parts of an electric car battery can be recycled, the design of large lithium-ion packs (which are made up of thousands of individual cells) makes the process complicated and expensive. However, as the technology matures and more processes can be automated, the cost of recycling is expected to fall significantly. 

Recent proposals from the European Union have suggested that EV suppliers become responsible for ensuring that their products aren't simply dumped at the end of their life. Volkswagen, Renault and Nissan are among a number of brands already investing heavily in battery recycling technology. 

Almost all elements of an electric car battery can be recovered and reused

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