EV battery recycling
Helpful resources

Recycling EV batteries: what becomes of them after use?

According to the AVERE barometer (the national association for the development of electric mobility), there will be no fewer than 882,531 electric vehicles on the road in France as of August 2023. Between 2022 and 2023, the number of 100% electric cars (passenger cars and commercial vehicles) registered rose by 52.4%. This massive adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) represents a real challenge in terms of sustainable mobility!

Therefore, the judicious recycling and reuse of EV batteries plays a vital role in significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

So how is the recycling of electric car batteries dealt with once they have become obsolete Let’s take a look at what you need to know about recycling electric batteries!


A reminder of the environmental challenge

EV lithium batteries represent an environmental paradox.

Although they provide a clean solution for reducing polluting emissions, their production and end-of-life pose ecological challenges.The materials needed to manufacture them often require extraction processes that have an impact on the planet.
This poses environmental risks (air, water and soil contamination) and health risks, as well as social challenges in some regions.
Furthermore, without recycling, electric car batteries risk contributing to pollution. Indeed, the production of EV batteries also involves potentially polluting processes.

To address these issues, the sector is moving towards more ethical and sustainable extraction and production methods. In particular, recycling is prioritised to reduce reliance on extraction.

Lifespan of an EV battery

The durability of electric car batteries has greatly improved thanks to the latest technological advances, which have extended their lifespan.

Lithium-ion batteries, common in EVs, are mostly recyclable and require little maintenance.
The lifespan of an EV battery varies according to the intensity and type of use.
Generally speaking, a battery should be replaced when it has only 70% of its energy conservation capacity left.

For a “typical” EV battery, this operational life is between 8 and 10 years on average.
Its lifespan is also measured in charge/discharge cycles, with an average of around 1,250 cycles, according to manufacturers.

The battery may no longer be efficient enough to power a vehicle, but it is not completely unusable…

It is therefore very rare for an EV battery to reach the end of its lifespan.
Contrary to popular belief, electric motors and other mechanical components wear out less quickly than internal combustion engines. The health of the battery is therefore vital to the range and overall efficiency of the vehicle!

The materials used to manufacture batteries

Lithium-ion batteries dominate the EV market.

In addition to lithium, they are made from rare metals such as cobalt, nickel and manganese.
These materials are expensive and require a lot of energy to extract. This can lead to significant environmental consequences, therefore it is particularly important to recycle them.

Reuse before recycling

Batteries that have reached 70% of their capacity can be reused before being recycled!
They retain their value and are recovered for a second life. For example:

  • to be used to store energy for a home, business, factory, and even the public grid!
  • to help integrate intermittent renewable energies, i.e. to participate in “stationary storage”.

This enables electricity to be stored on a large scale.

This system makes up for the weaknesses of renewable energy production.
Sources such as wind and solar power are described as “intermittent”, because their production fluctuates according to external conditions. It cannot therefore be guaranteed on a continuous basis.
The use of stationary energy storage therefore plays a key role in providing electricity during periods of insufficient production. This contributes to a more efficient use of resources!
This is of vital importance for the future, particularly with the target set for 2030, when 40% of our electricity should come from renewable sources.

Is recycling possible? What does the law stipulate?

Yes, EV battery recycling is possible and encouraged by legislation, particularly in Europe!
It helps to minimise the environmental impact of battery production.

The European Union has specifically introduced directives requiring manufacturers to recover and recycle used batteries. These regulations aim to promote a circular economy and minimise environmental impact.

It’s no longer in dispute that electric vehicles are good for the environment when they’re in use.
However, they must also have an equally responsible end-of-life.

The law now requires a number of elements.

A digital passport with carbon footprint labelling

To improve the traceability and environmental impact of EV batteries, including those in cars, bicycles and scooters, they will be equipped with a QR code passport, which will provide detailed information on the capacity, performance and composition of the EV battery.

In addition, a label indicating the carbon footprint of each battery, calculated from mining to recycling, will be introduced. As of 2027, batteries will have to comply with a specific carbon footprint threshold to be allowed to be sold in Europe.

Greener batteries as of 2027

Europe has set minimum levels of materials salvaged from battery waste to be reused:

  • 50% for lithium by 2027 and 80% by 2031;
  • 90% by 2027 and 95% by 2031 for cobalt, copper, lead and nickel.

New batteries will then have to contain a minimum proportion of recycled materials. 8 years after the legislation comes into force, it will be 6% for lithium, for instance and then 12%, 13 years after comes into force.

Optimised recycling

Europe also wants to step up the collection of used batteries. While this is already the case for cars, the collection rate will be increased for bicycles and scooters (51% by 2028 and 61% by 2031).

Good to know: EV manufacturers are obliged to recycle the batteries in their vehicles.
This obligation was introduced by a European directive in 2011 and is governed by article r543-130 of the Environment Code.

Organisations which have either been mandated by local governments or set up voluntarily by professionals, deal with the end-of-life of batteries. Some battery manufacturers have even taken the initiative and developed their own networks.

In all cases, they must:

  • Collect the batteries at their own expense,
  • Recycle them,
  • Work with a recycler whose process guarantees 50% recycling,
  • Register as a producer (this status is applied when the company is the first to put the battery on the market).

By the way, did you know that these same approved companies recycle more smartphone batteries than lithium ones? 👀

The future of end-of-life batteries

The management of end-of-life batteries is vital.

If they cannot be reused, they enter the recycling circuit at a specialised centre.

Here are the main stages in the recycling process:

  1. The battery is dismantled (removal of the plastic components destined to specialised sectors),
  2. The battery cells are opened using 2 techniques:
    Simple crushing (hydrometallurgy),
    Or carbonisation in furnaces (pyrometallurgy).
    The chimneys are equipped with filters and sensors to quantify emissions (which remain well below the limits set by the government).
  3. After various treatments, the resulting powder contains many metals: lithium, copper, tin, cobalt, aluminium, etc.
    They are then turned into pure ingots to make all sorts of new objects.

Thus, the recycling cycle recovers between 70 and 90% of the total weight of the battery, depending on its type.

The remaining residues, mainly made up of fire-resistant plastics, are placed in drums and stored in specialised landfill sites.

With the development of recycling technologies and advances in eco-design, it is expected that almost 100% of the materials will soon be recovered.

Important points to remember

  • The lithium batteries used in electric vehicles play a key role in reducing pollutant emissions. They require effective end-of-life treatment to minimise their impact.
  • Their operational life varies between 8 and 10 years.
  • Composed of precious metals, but difficult to extract, they require careful recycling.
  • Their end-of-life is not synonymous with uselessness; they can be reconditioned or recycled (reuse offers a sustainable alternative before final recycling).
  • Manufacturers are required to recycle batteries from their vehicles in accordance with European regulations.
  • French and European legislation actively encourages the recycling of lithium batteries and imposes recovery targets (principles of a circular economy).
  • The recycling process aims to recover between 70% and 90% of the total weight of the battery, with efforts towards full material recovery in the future.

We hope you now have a clearer picture of how lithium EV batteries are recycled ♻️.

For all your electric journeys, download your Chargemap app.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
26 April 2024 17 h 47 min

Interesting, but somehow the numbers do not add up for me. I look at my EV with 58kWh battery and a typical range of 350 km, and I assume that on average in Europe people drive between 15000 and 20000 km per year. Then 1000 cycles would equal 350000 km in about 20 years of use. That does not match up with the numbers in the article, that assume 1000-1250 cycles in 8-10 years.
Another discrepancy is that the batteries may have less than 70% of their capacity after 8-10 years. That does not align with the warranty given by most EV producers
of 80% after 8 years. In fact the data I have seen indicate that after some initial decline in capacity the degradation of the batteries is very slow, so it seems unlikely that it would go below 70% after 10 years.
In short, I expect the EV batteries last a lot longer than you suggest.
Very interested to hear what you think and happy to correct my numbers if I am wrong.

LiFePO4 battery cells
LiFePO4 battery cells
15 May 2024 4 h 21 min

<a href=”https://www.neexgent.com/products/lfpbatterycells.html”>LiFePO4 battery cells</a> offer superior performance and longevity for various applications.

Don't miss any Chargemap news,


Social media: