Calls grow for improving industrial battery recycling in Germany
The German government’s recently published draft amendment to the country’s battery law aimed at improving battery recycling in the country does not go far enough for waste management officials and recycling companies, writes Tagesspiegel Background. Last year, 12,700 tons of high-performance batteries were used in cell phones, laptops and e-bikes in Germany, nearly a fifth more than in 2018. The waste disposal industry and environmentalists are therefore calling for a legal recycling quota for high-powered industrial batteries, which are also used in electric vehicles. "The amendment to the Batteries Act is an opportunity to do justice to the change, but this is not possible with the draft that has now been submitted," battery recycling company Accurec wrote in a statement to the federal environment ministry. Likewise, NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) said the draft law did not meet the challenges of the growing battery market. The DUH is demanding an increase in the collection rate for portable batteries from 45 percent to 65 percent in the coming year and 85 percent from 2023. Only around 47 percent of batteries are collected and recycled in Germany, according to Tagesspiegel Background. It is not known what happens to the other 53 percent. Many likely end up in waste bins and waste incinerators. “We can hardly afford to waste this resource in the electromobile age because cobalt, lithium and graphite are scarce goods in lithium-ion batteries,” Tagesspiegel Background writes.
Manufacturers of portable batteries have to participate in a comprehensive battery return system that organises the collection and recycling of used batteries at the manufacturer's expense. Germany’s Federal Association of Waste Management (BDE) has warned that lithium-ion batteries regularly cause fires in refuse vehicles, depots and sorting systems. It is calling for the collection and processing of all lithium-ion batteries from a variety of waste streams and for a deposit system. The German Environment Agency (UBA) has also said the expected increase in the number of electric cars in the country requires ramping up recycling capacities both in terms of quantity and quality.