Honda expands European electric vehicle battery recycling initiative

Honda is extending a European battery recycling initiative to ensure the collection and reuse of old batteries from the carmaker's hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) and give them a second life as stationary storage assets.

Honda expands European electric vehicle battery recycling initiative

Recent research found that one million EVs sold in the UK in 2017 alone will generate 250

Honda Motor Europe has worked with SNAM (Société Nouvelle d’Affinage des Métaux) on a battery recycling drive since 2013 and has now confirmed that it will extend its partnership with the organisation.

As well as ensuring the traceability of end-of-life batteries, the partnership ensures that the assets are handled in accordance with European Union environmental standards. As part of the partnership expansion, SNAM will collect lithium-ion and Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries across Honda’s dealer network and treatment facilities in 22 European countries.

Honda Motor Europe’s senior vice president Tom Gardner said: “As demand for Honda’s expanding range of hybrid and electric cars continues to grow so does the requirement to manage batteries in the most environmentally-friendly way possible.

“Recent market developments may allow us to make use of these batteries in a second life application for powering businesses or by using recent improved recycling techniques to recover useful raw materials which can be used as feedstock into the production of new batteries.”

As part of the treatment process, SNAM assesses which batteries are suitable to be repurposed as part of new energy storage devices for both domestic and industrial applications. Any devices deemed unsuitable for this second-life application are broken down so that valuable materials including cobalt and lithium can be extracted for reuse across the supply chain and other sectors.

The end-of-life of batteries is problematic, due to technological and infrastructure challenges relating to reuse and recycling. Recent research found that one million EVs sold in the UK in 2017 alone will generate 250,000 tonnes of battery waste when they reach the end of their lives – likely in the early-to-mid-2030s.

Battery value chains also present a myriad of human rights and social issues. Tech, for example, is considered the world’s most at-risk sector for forced labour in supply chains, given its reliance on mining and chemicals. A high-profile lawsuit at present revolves around 13 Congolese families with members who were killed or injured while mining for cobalt, with researchers estimating that 35,000 children in the DRC are forced to work in the industry.

Global Battery Alliance 

Honda is one of the many automakers that has joined the Global Battery Alliance. Now representing organisations with combined revenue of $1trn, the Alliance works to shift battery value chains in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda and its 10 guiding principles, which cover human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.

The Alliance claims that battery-enabled electrification of the global transport and power sectors could reduce sector-wide emissions by up to 30% by 2030, bringing electricity to 600 million people in developing nations in the process.

Honda has committed to removing vehicles which rely solely on internal combustion engines from its European portfolio by 2022, three years ahead of the target’s initial deadline.

Honda had committed in March to a 2025 deadline for the target but said it has chosen to go faster in the hopes of moving the entire industry in light of new climate legislation and science. On a global scale, Honda is aiming for EVs to account for one-third of its sales by 2030.

Matt Mace

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