Tesla has confirmed that it significantly increased its battery recycling capacity over the past year. It is part of efforts to create a circular economy in which new batteries are manufactured. Above all, with materials previously used in old packs.
Initially, the company worked with third parties for the recycling and recovery of materials in batteries, but since 2019 its own efforts began to carry out the treatment within the battery factories. This would simplify logistics, reduce costs and speed up processes.
In the sustainability report published in 2020 by the company, they revealed that they are capable of recovering 92% of the materials in a battery. A figure that, as the process becomes more sophisticated, will continue to improve.
Then, in the company’s environmental impact report for 2021, they mention that they have been able to recover 1,500 tons of nickel, 300 tons of copper, and 200 tons of cobalt. All that material has been reused in new batteries.
The increase in production is up to 50 tons of recycled material per week at the end of 2021. A very significant figure that is not being used. It turns out that Tesla is still getting very few electric car battery packs.
Why? Because contrary to what many believe, electric car batteries usually last longer than the useful life of the vehicle. In fact it is usually a claim of the anti-electric, based on prejudice and no evidence.
Most of the batteries that Tesla recycles come from R&D and quality control departments
Tesla’s battery recycling efforts are especially relevant as it is the largest manufacturer of electric cars today. In 2021 they sold almost a million vehicles. It is estimated that in 2022 they will deliver a million and a half.
But the vast majority of the batteries that Tesla recycles today come from the company’s research and development or quality control departments. That is, they are test and experimentation packs.
“Tesla’s batteries, both in our vehicles and in energy storage products for homes and businesses, are designed to last for many years, therefore we have received very few packs of cars on the road.”
“Most of the batteries that Tesla recycles are from pre-consumer phases, coming from the research and development or quality control department. Not a single pack of our batteries goes to landfills or waste areas. Each and every one of them is recycled. We have established an internal ecosystem for reusing batteries”.
Once both concepts – that electric car batteries are recycled and that they last for decades – begin to take hold in society, the environmental fear that many people have towards electric mobility will be lost.
Especially since it is one of the main arguments from some lobbyists and those interested in keeping gasoline or diesel vehicles for sale. It is argued that, although the electric vehicle does not emit emissions when circulating, the manufacture and subsequent disposal of the battery it is highly polluting. Which is categorically false.
Battery recycling will be a key part of the electric car ecosystem in the future, as they become more popular and enough time passes to start seeing 20-year-old batteries being withdrawn from the market.