What happens to the batteries?
The increasing number of electric cars on our roads translates to more and more of their batteries being disposed of.
ARN collects both lithium-ion starter batteries and drive batteries. This is a process that is carefully carried out and one in which safe dismantling, storage, and transport all play key roles. Batteries deemed to be reusable can be given a second lease of life by a specialised company. Those that are not suitable for reuse are sent to recycling companies, where precious raw materials are recovered.
Car manufacturers and importers are mandatorily obliged to take back end-of-life batteries. However, by participating in the ARN Management Plan they can delegate that responsibility. In essence, the Management Plan means that ARN assumes producer responsibility for practically all car importers in the Netherlands. We also submit annual reports to the government on the number of batteries collected and the realised recycling performance. The legally mandated recycling requirement of at least 50 per cent of lithium-ion batteries, by weight, is also being easily exceeded.
Giving batteries a second lease of life
ARN works with three partners that are authorised to assess whether lithium-ion batteries are eligible to be given a second life: EcarACCU; NPP Power Europe; and Time Shift energy storage. These are all specialised companies that accept the batteries as waste and, in so doing, assume the producer responsibility from the car manufacturer. The disposed-of batteries cannot find their way back into the car industry. Instead, they are used for other applications, such as the storage of solar energy, for example. Functioning as the power supply in a remote location is an excellent reuse application for these batteries.
Battery processing is complex. Materials in the battery are separated by methods that include mechanical separation, shredding or hydrometallurgy. At the moment there are no final processors of batteries in the Netherlands. End-of-life batteries have to be sent to Germany, Belgium or France to be processed.
Starter batteries, such as lead batteries, are also covered by the ARN Management Plan. They have a positive residual value and their raw materials can be reused, which is driven by market requirements. For starter batteries, there is mandatory requirement for 65 per cent, by weight, to be recycled. This percentage is easily being exceeded.