The Overarching Effect of Battery Recycling on Global Ecology and Economy
The battery recycling industry has become indispensable for the electric vehicles manufacturing sector in order to maintain its sustainability. Apart from the environmental advantages offered by battery recycling, there are also some economic benefits involved. There are some flaws in this rather nascent market and addressing them will surely help in building a bright future the market.
Since the Paris Climate Summit in 2015, many countries have voluntarily started adopting measures to curb carbon emissions in an effort to slow down the rate of global warming caused by climate change. The intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) and net zero commitments of various countries are a step in that direction. One major sub-part of these commitments is the declaration to cut vehicular emissions by half or at least by 40% by the year 2030. Naturally, the shift from traditional mobility to electric mobility becomes imperative if the targets are to be achieved within the promised timeframe. However, just switching to electric cars isn’t enough as proper disposal of car batteries is equally important for the environment. The battery recycling method offers a sustainable solution to this challenge of electric battery disposal.
How a Robust Battery Recycling Industry Benefits the Global Environment and Economy
There is a common misconception that electric cars offer an all-round solution to combating the climate change problem. Without the battery recycling industry, however, electric cars can be equally, if not more, pollution-causing for the global biosphere. The global battery recycling market, thus, forms the central pole of the electric mobility tent.
Electric car batteries are made up of heavy metals like lithium and cobalt. Used batteries when left untreated start decaying, thereby leaking acids and these heavy metals directly in the soil. This may, in the long run, cause mixing of these metals with the groundwater and may pollute the entire groundwater table. Pollution of groundwater may cause serious problems for the inhabitants of that area; especially the children and pregnant mothers are at high risk from drinking such polluted water. Moreover, the soil where the leaching of acids and heavy metals takes place essentially becomes useless for cultivation and agriculture.
Recycling electric batteries helps in using the battery for another five to seven years which has a huge domino effect on the economy and ecology. Increasing the life of electric battery aids the consumers and users of electric cars to spend less on their electric vehicles. Also, battery recycling helps battery manufacturers to address the demands of the global electric car users in a more effective way. Thus, with a single stroke, battery recycling handles the economic constraints of the electric vehicles industry and ecological issues of soil and water pollution.
Additionally, once the battery becomes completely obsolete and needs to be disposed of, battery recycling can offer innovative solutions to extract metals like cobalt and lithium. Both these minerals are rare earth metals which is why electric batteries are in short supply and highly expensive. Furthermore, the weaponization of supply chains increases the stress on electric battery manufacturing companies as the raw materials are hard to get by. In such a scenario, being able to extract these precious metals for reuse and manufacturing batteries becomes a major advantage. In one way, battery recycling makes the automobile manufacturing companies self-reliant and build their own supply chains.
Analyzing the Future Prospects of Battery Recycling Market
Though it sounds simple and straightforward, battery recycling is a complex and tedious process. Plus, there are health hazards involved; the fumes emitted by used batteries are highly toxic and cause serious health issues to those working in battery recycling factories. Hence, a highly skilled workforce and proper recycling equipment is a must for safe and successful battery recycling. Also, at present, the percentage of metal that can be extracted from used batteries is very small. Hence, the majority of the metal goes in the landfills along with batteries. To address this issue, extensive research is being conducted by various battery manufacturing companies and engineering schools and universities for devising a methodology which will provide a way to extract maximum amount of metal from used batteries. Upskilling of the battery recycling workforce, developing advanced safety equipment, and research in the field of metal extraction are expected to help the battery recycling market to register huge growth in the next few decades.
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