Essential information for end of life vehicle dismantling, depollution and recycling

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What to do with Lithium-Ion batteries

cawleys dealing with lithium-ion batteriesCawleys is one of the first companies in the waste management industry to tackle Lithium-Ion battery waste in the automotive sector head on. The company, with headquarters in Luton, provides a one-stop-shop with the ability to collect, store, pack, export and ensure the recycling of Lithium-Ion batteries. 

 

 

Why recycling Lithium-Ion batteries is so important

Recently, the government launched its new ‘Road to Zero’ strategy which states that at least half of new cars should be ultra-low emission by 2030. Current motor predictions also suggest that there will be one million EV and PHEV vehicles on the road after 2020. This means there will be approximately 100,000 tonnes of Lithium-Ion batteries to deal with. 

Batteries contain many valuable materials including lithium, manganese, nickel and cobalt. The recovery and reuse of the battery is particularly important as there is currently a world shortage of cobalt. The largest reserves are currently found in the Democratic Republic of Congo and for this reason it is a very valuable commodity. 

The combination of increased demand for electric vehicles and the vital need to recycle resources emphasises the importance of recycling Lithium-Ion batteries, and that’s why Cawleys Hazardous Services has developed its battery recycling facility. 

Cawleys’ experience

Cawleys first started recycling Lithium-Ion batteries on request from a major automotive testing facility in 2012, after discovering the UK did not have any facilities to help disassemble and recycle the batteries.

Subsequently, Cawleys developed protocols and international relationships to create a true closed loop service, enabling car manufacturers and those at any stage in the automotive supply chain to recover the metals and materials within the batteries. 

The recycling service includes relevant safety precautions as the waste product is high voltage and holds chemical energy, which can lead to Thermal Runaway and fire. Once collected, the batteries are stored in bespoke containers to be transported. In line with Dangerous Good regulations, these containers are capable of controlling a thermal event and are the largest on the market, being able to carry up to 1400kg.

At Cawleys’ specialist facility, the battery is broken down into its component parts, enabling as many parts as possible to be recycled at locations either on site or in Europe – this includes structural parts such as wire looms.

The full recycling process of Lithium-Ion batteries by Cawleys is as follows:

  • Trained advisors audit and assess for safety and risk.  
  • EV (electric) and PHEV (hybrid) batteries are checked against protocols.
  • Batteries are packaged in bespoke containers complying with Dangerous Goods regulations.
  • Batteries are safely transported to our fully licensed, UK based facility.
  • High voltage engineers separate the batteries into recoverable parts under safe, insulated conditions. 
  • Battery modules and parts are processed for recovery and reuse. Lithium, cobalt and nickel are recycled. 

The common questions

Alan Colledge, Senior Manager for Cawleys Hazardous Services, spoke at CARS Expo on Wednesday 11th July, and answered questions from people in the automotive industry on Lithium-Ion battery recycling. 

The question most often asked at the show was why the UK doesn’t have the essential facilities needed to recycle these specific batteries. 

It was a great opportunity to speak about Cawleys own facilities and explain that, like the automotive industry as a whole, recycling Lithium-Ion batteries is a highly coordinated system across Europe, and Cawleys provides the access and integration with it from England. 

For the electric car industry to prove itself as sustainable and safe, it has to ensure the responsible disposal of Lithium-Ion batteries as demand increases. 

If you have any questions or would like to enquire about Cawleys Lithium-Ion battery disposal and recycling system, do not hesitate to contact lithium@cawleys.co.uk or call 0845 260 2000. 

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Adam Hewitt

ATF Professional LLP is registered in England and Wales with Partnership number OC418339

The views and opinions expressed on ATF Professional are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the editor, publisher or staff of ATF Professional.

 

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.