Global Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) Battery Recycling market was valued at US$375.200 million in 2019 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24.11% over the forecast period to reach a total market size of US$1,370.949 million in 2025. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries offer added advantages over conventional batteries such as compact structure, performance, and lightweight. This makes them more suitable in a world of portable electronic devices and electric vehicles (EVs).
The major driver of global lithium ion (Li-Ion) battery recycling market is the booming EV sector. Growing environmental sustainability concerns have been continuously encouraging governments and global organizations to implement stricter vehicle emission norms and move towards renewable energy sources. With set targets to reduce the carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions, governments are continuously making efforts to combat extreme climatic conditions. For instance, in 2019, the British government announced its target to cut the country’s greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions to almost zero by 2050. The Philippines has set the target of reducing its carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030 which will come from transport, energy, waste, forestry, and industry sectors. Norway has recently submitted an enhanced climate target, under the Paris agreement, to reduce emissions with atleast 50 percent, and towards 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 level. In order to reach these targets, investments, both public and private, are being funnelled into electric vehicle (EV) sector while governments across the globe are implementing favorable policies and taking initiatives to boost their adoption among people. For example, in 2017, the Mexican government announced the allocation of $25 million pesos for the installation of 100 electric vehicle charging centers in the metropolitan areas of Mexico City and Guadalajara. In 2019, Europe attracted €60 billion of total investments for electric vehicles in 2019. The Czech Republic received €6.6 billion from Volkswagen which has plans to produce 75 all-electric models globally by 2029. The global automaker has also announced to set up a plant in Germany. Thus, rising production of electric vehicles will continue to drive the usage of lithium ion batteries in the future. According to the IEA (International Energy Agency), the global electric car stock has surged from 0.02 million units in 2010 to 4.79 million units in 2019.
Lithium ion batteries are also used in most portable consumer electronics such as cell phones and laptops because of their high energy per unit mass as compared to other electrical energy storage systems. Also, lithium ion batteries have higher energy densities relative to lead-acid batteries or nickel-metal hydride batteries, making it possible to manufacture battery with smaller size while retaining the same storage capacity. Thus, growing sales of these consumer electronic devices is further boosting the demand for lithium ion batteries.
The demand for lithium ion batteries (LIB) have been continuously gaining momentum in response to escalating demand for consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and energy storage. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), around 97,000 tons of batteries are expected to get recycled over the period 2018-25 and reach nearly 300,000 tons by the end of 2030. China alone is projected to generate about 2 MMT of spent lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries by the end of 2030. With this, the issue of LIB waste is also getting more and more attention and is set to grow with rising demand for EVs. Used batteries come under the category of hazardous waste because they are likely to contain corrosive liquids, toxic heavy metals, or reactive metals. Under the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), hazardous waste must be properly identified, stored, transported, treated, and disposed off. The new lithium battery regulations (HM224F), published by DOT includes new packaging requirements for shipping defective or damaged lithium ion and lithium cells or batteries. However, the manufacturing of lithium ion batteries is facing potential problems in the supply chain of raw materials. Metals such as lithium, cobalt, and graphite that are needed to manufacture lithium ion batteries are scarce and are mined in only a few countries. As a result, trade policies in those countries could limit the availability of these materials and thus impact their global prices. There are environmental and social impact of mining these materials as well since used batteries that end up in landfill can harm the environment as well as human health. These factors, along with continuously rising demand for lithium ion batteries, is fueling the need for recycling of these batteries in order to lower environmental impact while recovering high-value materials via recycling of used Li-Ion batteries that can be used in manufacturing new batteries at low cost. Proactive regulations are being implemented across different economies with innovations in recycling technologies. Since automakers and electronic manufacturers are obliged to recycle their end-of-life batteries, many of them are partnering with recycling companies. Recycling companies, with the support of governments, are also expanding their recycling facilities across the globe, majorly because of the ban by China on the import of different kinds of solid waste from foreign countries in July 2017. Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) has recently announced its plans to set up a lithium ion battery recycling facility in India in the future. In January 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the creation of the DOE’s first Li-Ion battery recycling R&D center called the ReCell Center. Key goals of this facility include making Li-Ion battery recycling more competitive and profitable while using recovered battery materials such as cobalt and lithium so as to reduce the country’s dependence on imports. The program includes around 50 researchers based at six national labs and universities along with battery and automotive equipment manufacturers, material suppliers, and other industry players. In 2018, Scottish battery recycling company Belmont Trading added a new dismantling lines to its facility for dismantling of growing number of lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs).
Furthermore, companies are investing heavily in R&D to develop new innovative recycling technologies in order to boost the lithium-ion battery recycling rate. In mid-2019, the Canadian battery recycling company, Li-Cycle, implemented a new two-step process at commercial demonstration which can achieve a recycling rate of 80 percent to 100 percent of materials in lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries. In March 2019, Finnish clean-energy company Fortum announced that it had achieved a lithium-ion battery recycling rate of over 80 percent, against the current rate of 50 percent, by using a low-CO2 hydrometallurgical recycling process. In December 2019, seven EU member states- Germany, Belgium, Poland, Italy, France, Sweden, and Finland- agreed to provide upto €3.2 billion to support R&D into lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries across the region, focusing mainly on the extraction and processing of raw materials, creation of advanced chemical materials, cell and module design, system integration, and battery recycling. In September 2019, the “Recycling Li-ion batteries for electric Vehicle (ReLieVe)” received a €4.7 million in funding by EIT Raw Materials. This project was founded by BASF, Eramet, and SUEZ with an objective to develop an innovative closed-loop recycling process for lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries from electric vehicles and enable the production of new lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries in Europe. ReLieVe project will carry out a series of activities, over a two-year period, ranging from the collection and dismantling of end-of-life batteries going into recycling to the production of new electrode materials.
Although the awareness regarding recyclability and reusability of Li-Ion batteries is rising, the growth of this market is still hindered by lack of clear, well-defined regulatory and policy framework in some countries. For example, to date, India does not have any specific guidelines or regulations for the effective disposal and recycling of lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries. Even the country’s e-waste guidelines lack any mentioning of lithium ion batteries. Moreover, nations are investing in R&D to find alternatives to lithium ion batteries to reduce their dependence on China which is the biggest, monopolized battery manufacturer globally. For example, the UK-startup Faradion has been developing a sodium ion battery technology that is able to use salt. Also, an Indian startup, backed by Mumbai Angels, has been experimenting with carbon. However, despite increased R&D to find lithium ion (Li-Ion) battery alternatives, these batteries will continue to dominate the global battery market during the forecast period and beyond, thereby driving the lithium ion (Li-Ion) battery recycling market growth as well. The recent COVID-19 global pandemic outbreak has a very low impact on the global lithium ion (Li-Ion) battery recycling market. With nationwide lockdowns and mandatory social distancing measures, Li-Ion battery manufacturers are also facing supply chain disruption as well as lack of demand among end-users. This, in turn, has reduced the demand for raw materials such as lithium and cobalt which are recovered from recycling used Li-Ion batteries. With recycling facilities also facing productivity issues, there has been a slight decline in the growth of this market due to COVID-19 in the year 2020. However, the market is bound to grow in the medium and long term.
Prominent key market players in the Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) Battery Recycling market include AEA Technology, ACCUREC Recycling GmbH, BATREC INDUSTRIE AG, Veolia, Nippon Recycle Center Corp, Recupyl, Fortum, Toxco Inc., SNAM, Envirostream, Ganfeng Lithium, Umicore, Neometals Ltd, LI-CYCLE CORP, Duesenfeld GmbH, and Retriev Technologies.These companies hold a noteworthy share in the market on account of their good brand image and product offerings. Major players in the Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) Battery Recyclingmarket have been covered along with their relative competitive position and strategies. The report also mentions recent deals and investments of different market players over the last two years.