Many argue that the disposal of electric vehicles’ lithium-ion batteries after maximizing their use could potentially be just as harmful to the environment as carbon emissions.
“Looking at EVs, we don’t see any CO2 emissions, but if we think about all the input goods that go into mining, making and maintaining the batteries, then we start to see the true picture of producing the vehicles, which have the potential to leave a larger footprint than internal combustion vehicles,” said Danny Gomez, managing director of financial and emerging markets at FreightWaves.
Redwood Materials, a startup founded by former Tesla CTO JB Straubel, is looking to combat this issue. Redwood is partnering with Toyota “to collect, refurbish and recycle batteries and battery materials that can be sent to the Japanese automaker’s upcoming North Carolina battery plant,” according to a recent TechCrunch article.
“People should understand that as we look at these new technologies and they come to market, it’s good for us to be critical of them and to find ways to improve,” Gomez said. “The thought is to not be dismissive of them, and I know that can be a challenge — it’s a cultural shift.”
The partnership, which will collect batteries from Toyota’s hybrid and electric vehicles, comes as the Toyota Prius hybrids, which were released over 20 years ago, retire from the roads.
Redwood Materials also has partnerships with companies like Volvo, Ford and Proterra. All of these companies will help with this collecting, refurbishing and recycling process. Through these partnerships, the goal is to be efficient – to find a balance of in-home production and creating a circular supply chain to decrease the need for mining metals.
Creating circular supply chains has the potential to be an impactful way to help make supply chains more sustainable by reducing excess waste and carbon emissions.
“We are all connected from an environmental perspective. We all need to be working together to be as efficient as possible,” Gomez said.