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Can Electric Car Batteries Be Recycled? What You Need To Know!

electric car speedometer

If you’re driving an electric car, you are probably interested in protecting the environment. But what about those lithium-ion batteries running your electric car? Can you recycle them, and are they bad for the environment?

You can recycle them, but there are a few hiccups that you should be aware of. It’s a complex issue, so we developed this guide to walk you through everything that you need to know.

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Can You Recycle Electric Car Batteries?

Yes! While lithium electric car batteries are more challenging to recycle compared to traditional batteries, you can recycle lithium batteries, and this helps reduce the number of raw materials that need to be mined.

However, recycling lithium batteries is an energy-intensive process, and it costs quite a bit of money. Due to these factors and the low cost to mine lithium, recycling lithium batteries simply isn’t a cost-effective option yet.

But as technologies improve and recycling lithium batteries scales up, the cost should drop, so hopefully, we’ll be able to find less energy-intensive ways to recycle lithium batteries.

small electric car charging
Image Credit: andreas160578, Pixabay

What Kind of Batteries Are in Electric Cars?

Just about every electric car on the market uses lithium-ion batteries, and if they don’t, they don’t have the performance capabilities of those that do. Lithium-ion batteries have a higher energy density compared to traditional lead-acid batteries. This enables them to store far more energy, which is essential for a vehicle that runs on nothing but electricity!

Are Tesla Batteries Recyclable?

Like every other electric car manufacturer, Tesla uses lithium-ion batteries in its vehicles. While these batteries are 100% recyclable, it’s not currently cost-effective to do so. It’s a high-energy process that creates a decent amount of greenhouse gas.

So, while you’ll find a few companies that recycle lithium-ion batteries, they’re currently operating at a loss on their lithium-ion battery program. This likely won’t change until technologies improve and operations scale up.

electric car being charged by tesla power system
Image Credit: Blomst, Pixabay

How Do You Recycle Electric Car Batteries?

If you want to ensure that your lithium-ion care battery will be recycled, you’ll have to drop it off at the right location.

Many Home Depot and Lowe’s locations work with Call2Recycle. This company has drop-off locations all over the United States for people to drop off lithium-ion batteries.

Another option is to search the database at Search.Earth911. This site is recommended by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to help you find a recycling center near you. All you need to do is enter the type of material that you want to recycle (which in this case, is a lithium-ion car battery) and your zip code, and the site will find the recycling facilities near you!

Is Lithium Mining Bad for the Environment?

Most people start driving electric cars because they want to make a positive impact on the environment. So, it’s disappointing to find out that lithium mining is bad for the environment. It leads to water loss, ground destabilization, biodiversity loss, increased salinity of rivers, contaminated soil, and toxic waste. There’s no way around it: Mining lithium is bad for the environment, even if it is relatively cheap.

Still, it’s important to remember that while lithium mining is terrible for the environment, using electric vehicles is still a better option compared to traditional vehicles — as long as you’re using clean electricity to charge them. This comes down to the reduced greenhouse emissions that come from using non-traditional fuel. So, while lithium-ion batteries aren’t the most environmentally friendly, don’t let that deter you from getting an electric vehicle!

charging an electric car
Image Credit: andreas160578, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

While there are challenges that come with recycling lithium-ion batteries, there are still plenty of positives to driving an electric car. With constantly evolving technologies and the natural scaling up of recycling facilities, it’s only a matter of time until it becomes a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution.

In the meantime, keep taking your old electric car batteries to an authorized hazardous waste disposal point, and they’ll keep going through the hard work of recycling them for you!

Featured Image Credit: autoknipser-de, Pixabay


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