China urged to expand recycling ahead of 'tidal wave of old EV batteries'

by Margaret Lau
'Tidal wave of old EV batteries to hit China'. Photo: Rathaphon Nanthapreecha/Pexels
Environmental group Greenpeace has urged China to expand its recycling of batteries for electric vehicles, to reduce carbon emissions and ease pressure on raw material supply chains.

Greenpeace East Asia senior programme manager, Ada Kong, said: “We’re about to see a tidal wave of old EV batteries hit China. How the government responds will have huge ramifications for Xi Jinping’s 2060 carbon neutral commitment.”

“State policy indicates EVs will play a central role in emissions reduction, and Beijing needs to account for the high emissions of EV manufacturing. What we do with this wave of old batteries is actually a billion-dollar, billion-ton-of-carbon dioxide question.”

According to Greenpeace, 12.85 million tons of EV lithium-ion batteries will go offline between 2021 and 2030. At the same time, 10.35 million tons of lithium, cobalt, nickel, and manganese will be mined for new batteries.

Greenpeace said its projections show that, by 2030, global battery production lithium use will be 29.7 times higher than in 2018. “From 2021 to 2030, battery production will spend 30% of the world’s proven cobalt reserves.”

“Repurposing is central to manufacturers’ responsibility to mitigate their carbon emissions,” Kong said.

“High consumption and throwaway economies caused climate change and resource exploitation. To make EVs a sustainable solution, battery manufacturers and automotive companies have a social responsibility to support circular economies. And governments have a responsibility to mandate recycling and repurposing systems for EV batteries.”