As environmental awareness increases, so does the demand for electric vehicles. This trend is supported by the Government’s goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035, which is understandably pushing drivers to seek out viable transport alternatives. As communications specialists, we understand that developing stories like this tend to go far deeper and have more far-reaching international impact than you might initially expect. In this blog, we investigate how the popularity of electric cars may be driving the rapidly expanding new industry of EV battery recycling.
Gearing up for the EV revolution
The EV revolution is finally going mainstream following the Government’s announcement two years ago that it is aiming for the UK to achieve carbon net zero by 2050. But, as this industry matures, a new challenge is gathering pace. Without exhaustive supplies of the minerals needed to make EV batteries, how will suppliers be able to keep up with demand?
What fuels an EV battery?
To grasp the issues surrounding EV battery production, we first need to understand what it takes to produce an EV battery. These batteries include numerous precious and semi-precious metals, such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, and copper, all of which need to be mined from the earth.
Many of these minerals are mined in locations such as Russia, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some of these countries are still striving to put rigorous environmental regulation in place, while others are working to improve their labour standards and patch up historically chequered relationships with local communities. These are all issues which present challenges for car producers.
With the number of electric vehicles expected to exceed 145 million by 2030, the demand for battery minerals seems poised to surge. To reduce the need for new mining, we need to get a lot better at recycling EV batteries and at communicating the need for recycling in the first place.
Revving up our recycling efforts
Electric car batteries are recyclable, but the recycling process is not always straightforward. To encourage people to recycle their batteries, a cohesive strategy is required – backed by governments, and municipalities – to promote the take up of recycling schemes. This can be achieved by providing financial – or other – incentives.
A recent report commissioned by Earthworks found that, if 100 percent of current dead EV batteries were collected for recycling, mineral recovery rates, particularly for lithium, could supply as much as 25 percent of the EV industry’s lithium demand and 35 percent of its cobalt and nickel needs by 2040.
Localised communication strategies, with rewards to suit the community they serve, will help recycling efforts switch gear and become a viable and practical element in the EV revolution.
The race to net zero
As our net-zero efforts accelerate, we expect it to drive recycling innovation strategies, to ensure sustainable battery supply in Europe and beyond. Electric car batteries are recyclable. They can even be repeatedly recycled without any loss of performance or quality. Recycling electric car batteries can also reduce the environmental impact of electric cars and keep battery materials out of landfill – a clear win win.
However, for this initiative to be properly adopted, it requires a robust communications strategy. The similarities – and more importantly the differences – between countries, companies and communities need to be researched and understood.
The location of new recycling plants is a fundamental aspect to consider. Research from the ReLiB project shows that locating recycling plants relative to the waste streams supplying them can crucially affect the techno-economics of recycling. Location is only one aspect, however as there are also other factors to consider. Is the plant at a suitable scale to meet current demand but also scalable for future needs? Build too big and the asset can sit idle, becoming a liability, build too small and it can quickly become obsolete. The UK is still in the early stages of developing its recycling industry and the need for electric car battery recycling must be properly addressed.
As language specialists, we have a proven track record in helping companies consider cultural values, behaviour and preferences when localising their online materials and strategies. Our transnational team can work to help you understand, anticipate, and respond, to ensure you stay in pole position. Contact our expert team today.