Li-Cycle opens battery recycling plant in Alabama

Li-Cycle, a Canadian lithium-ion battery recycler, has opened a battery recycling facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The Toronto-based company, which also operates plants in Gilbert, Arizona and Rochester, New York, can now process up to 10,000 tons of manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries per year, the equivalent of approximately 20,000 EVs annually.

The latest facility is located in the southeastern U.S. to support the growing battery and EV supply chain there. In August, Mercedes-Benz started building the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV, its first battery-electric utility vehicle for the U.S. market, at its Tuscaloosa plant.

The recent flurry of activity centered on creating a sustainable battery lifecycle reflects an industrywide scramble to exert more control over supply chains and battery technology, while benefitting from tens of billions of dollars in onshore tax incentives provided under the Inflation Reduction Act.

Stellantis said on Tuesday that a new business unit dedicated to sustainability and battery recycling is expected to raise about $2 billion by the end of the decade. The automaker’s new circular economy hub, which runs the four-stage battery lifecycle — remanufacture, repair, reuse and recycle — is scheduled to open next year at its Mirafiori Complex in Italy.

Moving battery production to the U.S. can mitigate the supply chain problems and rising costs for raw materials wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine, while ensuring that automakers have enough battery packs to fill their EV order books.

Last week, General Motors announced a partnership with Quebec-based Lithion Recycling to produce new batteries from recovered battery materials starting in 2023. Together, the two companies will work toward establishing a circular ecosystem for recycling EV batteries, a critical bottleneck as the industry races to phase out gas engines at the end of the decade.

Redwood Materials has partnerships with Ford, Volkswagen and Volvo, as well as a deal with Toyota, to collect, refurbish and recycle batteries and battery materials to send to the automaker’s upcoming North Carolina battery plant. The Nevada-based metals recycler expects the market for battery recycling to top $18.7 billion by the end of the decade.

Until recently, the EV rollout worldwide has focused on building ample charging stations to support the spate of battery-electric vehicles expected on the road by 2030. But the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine halted global supply chains, making the raw materials used for batteries scarcer and more expensive.