Shaping the future of EV battery stewardship

Friday, 09 June, 2023

Shaping the future of EV battery stewardship

Preliminary research findings released by the Battery Stewardship Council (BSC) showed the number of used electric vehicle (EV) batteries entering the waste stream will grow to almost 30,000 tonnes by 2030 and 1.6 million tonnes by 2050.

Battery stewardship is a crucial element of the drive to increase uptake of EVs in Australia, as outlined in the recent National Electric Vehicle Strategy. It is essential that work to explore and establish the infrastructure needed to recover resources and avoid the health issue of stockpiling and fires begins now, while in its infancy.

BSC CEO Libby Chaplin called for investment in EV battery stewardship and recycling infrastructure, saying it is “immediately needed” for the industry to avoid costly future solutions and avoid missing out on the financial opportunities offered by the recycling of used batteries.

“The EV industry is facing a golden opportunity to take the lead in designing a scheme that is cost effective, fit for purpose and avoids the mistakes and costly fall-out of inaction as seen recently by the solar panel industry by prioritising the discussion of end-of-life processes today,” Chaplin said.

John Curtin Distinguished Professor Peter Newman, from Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute, said, “We need some serious regulation on lithium-ion batteries so we don’t end up being the world’s worst recyclers as we are with most things. In the near term, regulations must begin immediately on e-scooters as their batteries are very poor quality and a real fire risk.”

He added that Australia can, however, be optimistic about EV technology. The Tesla Model S is 10 years old and its batteries still work at 70% efficiency.

“We are in the early days of how much will need to be recycled, and WA should continue to lead the Lithium Valley industries of the future, with growing WA companies dealing with battery manufacture and recycling,” Newman said.

The federal government commissioned the BSC to drive industry consultation around the development of EV battery stewardship and has called on the EV industry to contribute to a discussion paper, delivered in collaboration with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) and the Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA).

BSC is seeking to support the EV industry to create a solution for EV batteries that works for the entire supply chain and lives up to green credentials.

The discussion paper can be found here. All submissions are due by 30 June 2023.

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