TES, a global provider of sustainable technology lifecycle services, is to establish a 10,000 square metre recycling facility in Rotterdam, designed to bolster Europe’s capacity to recycle lithium batteries as demand for electric vehicles (EVs) accelerates and tougher new environmental legislation is in prospect.
The facility, based at Europe’s largest seaport, has an option to increase to over 40,000 square metres. TES already has a basic waste license to receive, store and forward lithium batteries and to manage EV batteries and battery production scrap as well as a license to shred alkaline batteries.
The site extension is planned to be fully operational by late 2022 and will be the first lithium battery recycling plant in the Netherlands, complimenting the two other TES lithium battery recycling facilities in Grenoble (France) and Singapore.
The combined capacities of the three facilities will make TES one of the largest service providers of lithium battery recycling globally as well as one of the largest generators of commodity materials produced from the battery recycling process
With car manufacturers predicted to increase EV outputs 14-fold by 2030 compared to 2018 levels, according to figures from the European Commission the EU could account for 17% of the global demand for lithium batteries by 2030, the second highest share worldwide.
A report from Circular Energy Storage in December 2020 suggested Europe is currently under capacity for sustainable lithium battery recycling, and more capacity is needed to meet waste generation by 2030.
Thomas Holberg, Global Vice President of Battery Operations at TES commented: “We have a vision to be a global sustainability innovator, and our unwavering ambition to turn the Port of Rotterdam site into a state-of-the-art European battery recycling facility is key in delivering that strategy. Once up and running, we will have up to 10,000 tonnes of shredding capacity per year and a subsequent hydrometallurgical process which focuses on the recovery of nickel, cobalt, and lithium as a precursor feedstock for the battery industry.
“Our mission at TES is to ‘close the loop’ on lithium battery production by encouraging reuse and improving the collection and recycling of the scarce metals and materials they contain.”
EU Green Deal
The European Commission has long been advocating a ‘green deal’ to counter concerns around climate change. It has adopted a package of proposals intended to make the EU's climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
The legislation required to make what has been dubbed the ‘Fit for 55’ pledge legally binding was released on 14 July and introduces a wide range of new requirements, including a globally unprecedented carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) for pricing imported carbon. It also includes a major overhaul of the Emissions Trading System (ETS) to extend carbon pricing to shipping, aviation, transport, and buildings; plans to accelerate the development of the renewable energy sector; and a ban on sales of new fossil-fuel cars after 2035.
Other goals for 2030 onwards include significantly improving the recycled content of scarce metals like nickel, cobalt and lithium in industrial and EV batteries. As of 1 January 2027, industrial and EV batteries with internal storage will have to declare the content of recycled cobalt, lead, lithium and nickel they contain, and from 1 January 2030, these batteries will have to contain minimum levels of recycled content (12% cobalt, 85% lead, 4% lithium and 4% nickel). From 1 January 2035, these levels will be further increased (20% cobalt, 10% lithium and 12% nickel).
Slovenia, which has recently taken over the EU Presidency, has responsibility for reaching agreement with all EU member states over the ambitious green deal targets. It has acknowledged that discussions on the Fit for 55 package are likely to be difficult, but has indicated its determination to bring forward the legislation, stating: “The Slovenian Presidency believes that flexibility is needed for each EU member state to achieve the set targets effectively. EU member states are at different starting positions and in different circumstances, so there are no universal solutions. However, we must achieve the common goal – to fulfil our climate commitments.”