Experts warn of pollution from unregulated new-energy battery recycling system
Published: Apr 14, 2021 12:51 AM
File Photo:VCG

File Photo:VCG

As the amount of waste batteries from new-energy vehicles has reached nearly 200,000 tons in China, experts are warning of environmental pollution and safety issues as large numbers of used power batteries are recycled and processed without any regulation. 

According to a report by Xinhua on Monday, the waste power batteries from new-energy cars in China have reached nearly 200,000 tons as of 2020, and the number is expected to reach 750,000 in 2025.

Zhong Shi, an automotive industry analyst, told the Global Times on Tuesday that after an unregulated battery-recycling workshop buys used batteries, “they tend to carry out a rather simple recycling process, discarding useless materials such as electrolyte at will, which could cause serious soil pollution.”

Zhang Zheming, an associate researcher from the Shenzhen Automotive Research Institute, told Xinhua that due to the lack of supervision and standard operation during the recycling process, there might be risks of explosion when disassembling the batteries.

China Power Battery Recycling and Ladder Utilization Union has put a total of 22 Chinese companies on the white list, meaning that they are authorized to recycle and utilize used power batteries as of 2020.

China also requires new-energy vehicle manufacturing industries and companies to build battery-recycling spots for car owners, and to be responsible for the recycling of the used power batteries, according to a notice issued by the government in 2018.

However, the Xinhua report pointed out that many used batteries are traded in an unsupervised market, due to the fact that regulations for the battery recycling lack details. Also, the new-energy car owners still don’t realize the importance of recycling the batteries, and would rather to sell their batteries to unregulated recyclers.

It is a sellers’ market, Jian Yihui, a product manager for a battery trading platform, told Xinhua, where the car owners are more willing to sell their used batteries for a better and higher price without considering whether the buyer is qualified or not.

Zhong said that the environmental value of new-energy vehicles is based on two factors. “First, they don’t cause air pollution in the same way as petrol cars. And second, unlike the carbon dioxide polluting the air, the waste from the used batteries can be disposed of more easily,” said Zhong. “That’s why it’s important to have a regulated recycling system to avoid future soil pollution.”