One of the significant environmental issues is battery waste due to the hazardous, toxic, and corrosive materials contained in batteries. If battery disposal is not taken seriously, it contributes to water and air pollution, and the chemicals also contaminate groundwater and surface water.
If the batteries are improperly disposed of, it poses a fire hazard, and when lithium-ion batteries are mistakenly put in the municipal recycling bin, they can become damaged or crushed during processing, which may result in a fire hazard. Battery recycling also conserves natural resources by reducing the need for virgin materials, energy, and pollution associated with making new products.
Even though the threats are hazardous, recycling batteries is a challenging task that requires the right skill set in battery chemistry and construction work to create efficient recycling systems.
The several ways, India addresses the environmental threat posed by battery waste:-
- An ecosystem created for recycling spent EV batteries: The dual challenge of manufacturing lithium-ion batteries at scale and the subsequent environmental threat posed by battery waste have been faced by India. To address the issue, it is needed to create an ecosystem for recycling the spent EV batteries. Preliminary agreements have been signed with the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments to make EVs and lithium-ion batteries. The retired batteries from electric vehicles could retain 70% to 80% of their initial capacity. It supports extending the battery life for another three to five years and can be used by recyclers.
- EV recycling batteries set up by facilities and automobiles: Ecoreco, a Mumbai-based recycling company, is setting up a facility for EV battery recycling and automobiles.
- EV battery recycling policies: A comprehensive policy on EV battery recycling could reduce raw material costs significantly. 60% of the total manufacturing cost of an EV battery is attributed to raw material costs.
Clearly, it shows the solid steps taken by India to address the environmental threat posed by battery waste; however, it needs to be seen in the coming years how the recycling demand can be overcome and what other ways need to be implemented to counter such threats.