Ford and Volvo are the first automakers to directly support an electric vehicle battery recycling program by Redwood Materials with the intention to use the recycled resources to help make the vehicles more affordable and sustainable.
The program will take place in California to enhance recycling of hybrid and electric vehicle battery packs when they can no longer be used. Battery recycling company Redwood says it will accept all lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride batteries in the state and are open to other automakers participating in the program.
Redwood will work directly with dealers and dismantlers in California to identify and recover end-of-life battery packs. The company will then safely transport the batteries to its facilities in Nevada where they will be recycled, after which the materials will then be put back into cell production.
The companies believe that recycled batteries will eventually become assets to help make electric vehicles more sustainable and cost effective.
EVAdoption estimates there will be more than 25 million electric vehicles in use in the United States by 2030. In California it says nearly 57% of car sales will be electric by that year. The steady increase of EV adaptation in the state, which has the highest rate of electric vehicle sales, is why Redwood says it would focus its program there.
Redwood says it receives more than 6 gigawatt hours of lithium-ion batteries, or the equivalent of 60,000 electric vehicles, each year. It expects that number to continue to increase as more electric vehicles are on the roads with the first significant wave of end-of-life electric vehicles still to come.
Those numbers are supported by the expected growth in the battery recycling market. The transportation battery recycling market is projected to reach $10.3 billion by 2030, according to a report by Research Drive. Of that, automotive battery recycling is expected to hit $2.2 billion.
Ford first partnered with Redwood in September 2021 to help create a closed loop for battery recycling and a United States supply chain for important battery materials. The Hill reported Ford invested $50 million in Redwood as part of the deal.
Redwood says Volvo has similar objectives when it comes to recycling batteries.
Ford also plans to build two manufacturing sites for electric vehicles and batteries in the United States, which is part of a $7 billion investment. The facilities will have a production capacity of 129 gigawatt hours per year and are expected to open in 2025.
With such an uptick in production and electric vehicle use comes the necessity of recycling batteries when their use ends. At the time of the original deal, Ford said its agreement with Redwood would “make electric vehicles more sustainable and affordable by localizing the supply chain.”
Redwood says it plans to produce 100 gigawatt hours of cathode materials by 2025, enough for 1 million electric vehicles, and according to Forbes the company is investing $1 billion in a US plant that will make materials for clean automobiles. As the market increases, another recycling plant is in the works by Battery Resourcers, which is building what it says will be the largest in North America with a capacity to process 30,000 metric tons of discarded lithium-ion batteries and scrap per year.