Producing a battery for an electric vehicle typically entails mining substantial quantities of difficult-to-access minerals. Conventional methods of extracting and refining these materials for battery production demand vast amounts of energy, resulting in a higher initial carbon footprint compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. Over time the high efficiency of electric motors will offset these initial environmental effects, ultimately leading to a 70% overall emissions reduction throughout the vehicle’s lifespan.

Recent advancements in battery recycling however – exemplified by the efforts of leading US recycler Redwood Materials – are starting to mitigate the initial environmental effects of the mining process as well.

In the United States, it takes approximately 25,500 miles of driving for an EV to reach carbon parity with traditional ICE vehicles, assuming all materials end up in landfills. But because the materials in EV batteries are highly valuable, these batteries are increasingly being recycled. Despite being in its early stages, EV recycling is already profitable and capable of reclaiming over 95% of crucial minerals.

A recent analysis by Stanford University researchers reveals that Redwood Materials’ recycling process emits up to 80% fewer emissions than traditional methods. This significantly shortens the environmental breakeven point between EVs and internal combustion vehicles to under 15,000 miles.

The transition to renewable energy sources will further diminish the environmental impact of EVs. The exponential growth of solar energy installations, coupled with expectations that the US grid will derive two-thirds of its power from carbon-free sources by 2030, suggests that EVs made with recycled materials could offset emissions within months.

Recycling batteries consumes 79% less energy and produces 55% fewer CO2 emissions compared to traditional refining methods. Moreover, localizing the recycling supply chain further reduces emissions, resulting in a total CO2 savings of 80%.

The world is gearing up to recycle twice the amount of lithium-ion battery supply it manufactured in 2014 by 2024. The market is reacting – we developed the batteries first, but their value is leading to an entirely new industry which will further improve the efficiency and environmental impacts of electrified driving.

For more info, click over to this fascinating article from Bloomberg.