Expert interviews: battery recycling in Europe

Published on 07 July 2021

Ambitious sustainability goals, mandatory CO2 reduction and increasing material scarcities are forcing Europe to define its own strategy for the recycling and production of drive batteries. We asked three experts what they think will be the future of battery recycling in Europe.

Fredrik Andresen is Managing Director of BatteriRetur, Norway’s global leader in battery collection and discharging. He also heads the new, state-of-the-art battery recycler Hydrovolt. Andresen: “BatteriRetur is a world leader in battery collection and discharging and we recycle all types of batteries. During the past 10 years, however, we have shifted our focus emphatically to battery packs from electric vehicles. It’s an area in which we have now become a leading global player. We have also taken the next step, by recycling these batteries. In the Norwegian town of Fredrikstad we are building the new Hydrovolt recycling facility. As its name might suggest, Hydrovolt will run entirely on renewable energy.”

Steady supply of end-of-life batteries

The facility, which is due to be operational at the end of the year, will be used to recycle end-of-life Li-ion batteries from electric vehicles and batteries from the marine sector. “Initially, we will concentrate on the Norwegian home market. Given our world-leading position as users of electric vehicles, we will of course, be able to count on a steady supply of end-of-life batteries. But our ambition is to also process batteries from other parts of Europe and, to this end, exploratory talks with potential providers are already ongoing. BatteriRetur will collect the batteries and then fully discharge and dismantle them before transferring them to the Hydrovolt facility.”

Higher recycling ratio

“In the first few years, BatteriRetur will carry out the operational process in the Hydrovolt facility. And while the time might not yet be ripe to reveal too much about our innovations, we have the healthy ambition to realise a higher recycling ratio than is currently seen in Europe. Our technology can best be described as a mix of existing and new technologies. We are starting with a material recycling efficiency of at least 80 per cent, but we think we can do much better. Our goal is to produce little or no waste at all. Annual capacity is 8,000 tonnes, but this will be quickly ramped up.”

“To make the recycling of batteries easier and more efficient, we hope for a number of changes in the production of batteries”
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Johan van Peperzeel, Van Peperzeel B.V.

“We will be ready by the end of 2023”

Van Peperzeel B.V. organizes all collection, logistics and processing of drive batteries in the Netherlands on behalf of ARN. Owner Johan van Peperzeel is working hard behind the scenes on a European infrastructure for collection and recycling. Van Peperzeel: “By the end of 2023, we expect the volumes of Li-ion batteries to increase to around 1,500 on the Dutch market. Then we want to be ready as recyclers. The complete recycling line has already been developed. We have a process ready for all flows and have found the customers. It is now a matter of a permit, the right location and preferably a partner who supports us financially.”

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Janet Kes, ARN

Increase recycling capacity

Janet Kes, Batteries and Quality Assurance manager at ARN, is aware of national and international interest in the possibilities of recycling and production of drive batteries. Kes: “There are many European initiatives to increase the recycling capacity for processing Li-Ion batteries. ARN is regularly approached by international companies that see opportunities to start large-scale recycling activities of drive batteries in the Netherlands.”

You can read the full interviews with the three experts in our Sustainability Report 2021.