Publication Detail

Charting the Electric Vehicle Battery Reuse and Recycling Network in North America


Journal Article

National Center for Sustainable Transportation, Energy and Efficiency Institute

Suggested Citation:
Slattery, Margaret, Jessica Dunn, Alissa Kendall (2023)

Charting the Electric Vehicle Battery Reuse and Recycling Network in North America

. International Journal of Integrated Waste Management, Science and Technology 174

As electric vehicle (EV) sales grow across the world, a common question arises: “what happens to the batteries?” Using expert elicitation, this study identifies the current pathways for retired EV batteries in the United States and Canada and anticipates how the network might evolve in the future. The majority of end-of-life (EOL) EVs are currently managed within the manufacturer and dealership network, but more will enter the independent afterlife market as growing volumes reach EOL out-of-warranty. The interviews indicate that safety, transportation, and accessible information about battery composition and remaining capacity are critical issues across sectors. Participants demonstrated a strong commitment to creating a closed-loop value chain, motivating novel partnerships between recyclers and producers. At the same time, the value of EOL batteries as a material supply source may create competition between recycling and repurposing in the short term. State and federal governments are implementing policies to facilitate access to information and incentivize domestic manufacturing, but compared to other countries, the US lacks a mechanism to ensure that batteries will be collected and recycled. In addition, there is no national tracking system that would provide more robust data on LIB management. Multiple participants noted that the network handles the majority of EOL batteries without significant policy intervention. However, at present, the system depends the economics of reuse and recycling when accounting for the cost of collection and processing, which creates a risk of stranded batteries and/or wasted materials for packs that are lower-value or difficult to access.