A new wave of e-waste recycling is going to be cresting soon and it involves the sea of batteries, both large and small, that will be dying over time.
While there are promising breakthroughs in battery technology, no battery lasts forever. Not even those in electric vehicles, or EVs. But most all batteries can be recycled.
Just 10 years ago they were still something of a novelty in most neighborhoods. Those hybrid or, more increasingly, all-electric vehicles were coming of age it seemed. Today, it's simply one of many other "normal" cars on the road.
And their growth is exploding and expanding.
One source predicts that electric cars will account for 20 percent of new car sales by 2025, up to 40 percent in 2030, and almost 100 percent in 2040. While not everyone is so certain that EVs, as they are commonly known, will take over the roads in the next decade, they are certainly going to be coming close to doing so.
One of the few environmental downsides to these emissionless vehicles, however, is that they use massive batteries that rarely fail, but do reach an end-of-life point.
And these have to be disposed of somehow.
Obtaining accurate estimates of the number or percentage of EV batteries being recycled is not possible, but some sources believe that, overall, less than 5 percent of these units are recycled.
Part of the challenge is the batteries themselves.
As one news article noted,
"While most EV components are much the same as those of conventional cars, the big difference is the battery. While traditional lead-acid batteries are widely recycled, the same can't be said for the lithium-ion versions used in electric cars.
EV batteries are larger and heavier than those in regular cars and are made up of several hundred individual lithium-ion cells, all of which need dismantling. They contain hazardous materials, and have an inconvenient tendency to explode if disassembled incorrectly."
Cutting too deep into a Tesla cell, for example, or in the wrong place, and it can short-circuit, combust, and release toxic fumes. Adding to the challenge of the recycling process is the larger issue of volume.
Researchers and manufacturers are trying to figure out how to recycle the millions of electric vehicle (EV) batteries that car makers expect to produce over the next few decades.
This wasn't a real problem when EVs were rare, but now EV technology is becoming mainstream. And federal, state, and local agencies are pushing the trend. California's Governor Gavin Newsom, for example, signed an executive order in 2020 directing the state to end new gas car sales by 2035.
In addition, several carmakers are making plans to phase out combustion engines within a few decades, and many industry analysts predict at least 145 million EVs will be on the road in the U.S. by 2030, up from just 11 million back in 2019, for example.
So, what do we do with all the old batteries?
Okay, so you can just toss somebatteries, except in California, where it is illegal to throw away all types of batteries. But at least 20 states have some type of battery recycling requirements.
However, as the EPA points out,
"In most communities, alkaline and zinc carbon batteries can be safely put in your household trash. EPA recommendation: send used alkaline and zinc carbon batteries to battery recyclers or check with your local or state solid waste authority."
But not every type of battery can be disposed of in the trash. And they certainly don't need to end up in landfills.
That is because many batteries can leak heavy harmful metals, such as nickel, cadmium, and lithium, which can contaminate soils, groundwater, and even streams. If they are incinerated, instead of landfilled, most batteries release toxic gases containing heavy metals into the atmosphere.
The bottom line for any type of battery disposal is that recycling is the safest course.
When it comes to EV batteries, the challenge is also an opportunity.
A good example of this is a venture piloted by Tesla cofounder and former tech chief JB Straubel, is looking to make a huge impact on the EV battery recycling and recovery industry.
According to an article at Forbes magazine,
"The Carson City, Nevada-based company... plans to use recycled products to manufacture 'precision battery materials' it will sell to makers of lithium-ion cells. Redwood will... have capacity to produce 100 gigawatt-hours of cathode material and enough anode foil for a million electric vehicles annually by 2025. The plant will employ up to 1,000 workers, with a goal of a fivefold increase in annual output by 2030, the company said."
Projects like these are promising. The recycling "market" for the lead-acid batteries that start gas-powered car has already exploded with more than 95 percent of them being recycled today. This is largely due to the fact that consumers can claim deposits when they return the batteries. And, for recyclers, lead-acid batteries are relatively simple to dismantle.
The Lithium-ion battery packs used by EVs are, by contrast, heavy machines and potentially lethal with dozens of components and radically different designs depending on their manufacturer.
However, the ideal solution when it comes to batteries - from pea-sized hearing aid units to 1,000 pound EV packs - is recycling and recovery.
One of the great things about Junk King is that we always provide efficient, safe, and eco-friendly junk removal designed to make the whole process easy for you.
Not only do our experienced junk removal team has all the resources needed to remove and haul away unwanted junk items and just about any other trash items you need to get rid of, we do it quickly, safely, and in an environmentally safe manner.
That's because your local Junk King team makes sure that your reusable items end up in the right place. This might be a local non-profit group for those items that are still in usable condition. And for all those other unusable items and materials that really don't need to go into a landfill? That's where recycling and reuse comes in.
For Junk King, "being green" and environmentally responsible is at the core of our company mission. And we carry out that mission every day by recycling, donating, or repurposing everything we possibly can - up to 60 percent or more, to be exact.
So, when it comes to junk removal, we do all we can to help achieve zero waste by making sure that all the metals, plastics, glass, and other materials are broken down and recycled properly.
And, best of all, we do all the heavy lifting!
You simply point and we haul your junk items into our junk removal trucks, with no hidden fees.
Our professional and insured junk removal and disposal team will call 15 to 30 minutes before we arrive at your home. And, once we’re there, we’ll give you a free estimate based on how much room your bulk trash will take up in our truck, along with any other junk items you want to get rid of.
Just make an appointment by booking online above or by calling 1.888.888.JUNK (5865).