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Current Status of Battery Recycling

What is the status of battery recycling?
A view from above of a group of batteries lined up together.
© Freepik

Introduced just three decades ago, lithium-ion batteries have rapidly become the state-of-the art power source for portable electronic devices, offering immense potential for energy storage in both stationary applications and EVs. Their widespread adoption in various industrial and consumer sectors has increased the urgency to recycle and reuse their vital components.

Soaring global energy demand, driven by population growth, lifestyle changes, and dwindling fossil fuel resources, has led to an increasing reliance on renewable energy sources. In this context, the ‘lithium-ion battery’ (LIB), with its high energy density, specific energy, and recharging capabilities, is a promising candidate for future energy storage solutions.

Already dominant as the preferred choice for portable consumer electronics such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, LIBs are also in the spotlight as the most compelling battery technology for both pure and ‘hybrid electric vehicles’ (HEVs), as well as stationary storage applications. This widespread use requires a concerted effort towards recycling and sustainable practices to meet growing demand and ensure a greener and more efficient energy future.

An EV battery with a green cover, in the middle of a group of conventional batteries. EV Battery. Mynrma (n.d.)

In addition, extensive research is underway exploring various non-lithium chemistries that use naturally abundant elements, including sodium, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and others. Among these alternatives, sodium-ion technology is very similar to commercial ‘lithium-ion batteries’ (LIBs) and is promising as a potential drop-in solution. However, from a recycling perspective, battery chemistries with low-cost elements may face economic challenges. Legislative support is therefore essential to promote responsible and sustainable practices for the recycling of these batteries.

The global battery recycling market is witnessing substantial growth, increasing from $13.54 billion in 2021 to $15.44 billion in 2022, with an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.1%. Looking ahead, this market is projected to reach $25.9 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 13.8%.

The battery recycling market encompasses the sale of recycled batteries and related services provided by entities, including organizations, sole traders, and partnerships. Battery recycling involves the reuse and reprocessing of batteries to minimize the disposal of batteries as waste.

The main types of batteries recycled include lead-acid, nickel-based, lithium-based, and other battery types. In 2021, North America emerged as the largest region in the battery recycling market. The market analysis includes Asia-Pacific, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East, and Africa.

The expected growth in the battery recycling market is driven by the increasing adoption of (EVs) over the forecast period. EVs, which are either fully or partially powered by electricity, require careful handling of battery disposal due to the presence of valuable materials, making conventional disposal methods costly.

Two persons with their personal protection equipment working in an EV battery production. Battery production. Duesenfeld (n.d.)

Recycling is an opportunity to minimize life cycle costs by recovering high-value materials and avoiding the cost of hazardous waste disposal. With the growth in EV sales, the number of lithium-ion batteries on the market has increased. The limited lifespan of these batteries requires an effective recycling medium to stabilize domestic sources of materials for battery production, reduce demand for raw materials, and minimize geopolitical disruptions in the supply chain.

After 5-8 years, the power generated by these batteries may not be sufficient for the EVs. However they can still be used in other low-voltage applications such as in households, energy backups, renewable energy storage, and off-peak energy storage. Recycling EV batteries also helps to recover metals such as cobalt, lithium, nickel, and others, which can then be used to make new batteries, saving resources and production costs. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global EV sales will reach 125 million by 2030. Therefore, the increasing adoption of EVs is driving the growth of the battery recycling market.

Major companies operating in the battery recycling market are entering into strategic collaborations to improve their expertise and increase the efficiency of battery recycling. For example, in 2021, Johnson Matthey, a UK-based sustainable technologies company, partnered with Stena Recycling Group, a leading Swedish recycler of industrial waste and end-of-life products, to develop an efficient value chain for recycling lithium-ion batteries and cell manufacturing materials in Europe.

The countries covered in the battery recycling market are Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, South Korea, the UK, and the US.

Although recycling technology for ‘lithium-ion batteries’ (LIBs) is partially established, ongoing research is exploring further technical advances to improve recycling processes. These discoveries have the potential to support the rapidly expanding recycling industry, contributing to resource conservation and global sustainability efforts.

The rise of lithium-ion batteries as state-of-the-art power sources for electronic devices and energy storage applications has paved the way for a promising future in sustainable energy solutions. As these batteries find widespread use in various industries and consumer electronics, the need to recycle and reuse their components is becoming increasingly important. The global battery recycling market is experiencing significant growth, driven by rising energy demand, the introduction of EVs, and the recovery of valuable materials from spent batteries.


The emergence of non-lithium chemistries also presents potential recycling challenges, requiring legislative support to ensure proper management and resource recovery. With the EVs market projected to grow exponentially, effective recycling mediums play a crucial role in stabilizing material sources, reducing raw material demand, and minimizing geopolitical disruptions in the supply chain. Recycling EV batteries not only extends their usability in secondary applications but also recovers valuable metals for the manufacture of new batteries, promoting a circular economy approach.


  • Neumann et al. (2022) Recycling of Lithium-Ion Batteries—Current State of the Art, Circular Economy, and Next Generation Recycling Retrieved from: Link
  • Globe Newswire (2022) $15.4 Billion Worldwide Battery Recycling Industry to 2031 – Increasing Adoption of Electric Vehicles is Expected to Drive Growth Retrieved from: Link
  • Baum et al. (2022) Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling─Overview of Techniques and Trends. Retrieved from: Link
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