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Toyota teams up with Tesla-partner-founded recycling company in groundbreaking deal: 'A decisive move'

Millions of Prius hybrid batteries are about to get a new lease on life.

Millions of Prius hybrid batteries are about to get a new lease on life.

Photo Credit: iStock

Millions of Prius hybrid batteries are about to get a new lease on life thanks to Toyota's partnership with Nevada-based startup Redwood Materials, led by Tesla co-founder JB Straubel.

As Alistair Barr detailed for Business Insider, the automaker agreed to let the battery recycling company repurpose nearly five million units, many of which are coming from just one state over in California. 

As part of the recycling process, Toyota will obtain anode copper foil and cathode active material from the startup, using the material in new batteries for its electric vehicles

"We're thrilled to be procuring critical battery components and materials to filter into our battery ecosystem," Toyota Battery Manufacturing, North Carolina, president Sean Suggs said in a press release on Nov. 16, noting the importance of maximizing "precious resources." 

"Accelerating our recycling efforts and domestic component procurement gets us closer to our ultimate goal of creating a closed-loop battery ecosystem that will become increasingly important," added Christopher Yang, the group vice president of Business Development and deputy general counsel of Legal at Toyota Motor North America.

The world has its eyes on reducing carbon pollution to prevent the continued overheating of our planet, which has disrupted food production and led to an increase in extreme weather events

The legally binding 2015 Paris Agreement hopes to limit temperatures from rising 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels, and the transition away from dirty energy like oil and gas is vital.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the burning of these energy sources accounts for 75% of carbon pollution in the United States.

Unlike gas-powered cars, EVs don't produce heat-trapping gases, making them a better choice. However, mining for raw battery materials releases pollution into our atmosphere, in addition to being dangerous for workers and carrying the risk of water contamination.

As stated in its press release, Redwood Materials will make the battery production process more sustainable by "targeting a minimum of 20% recycled nickel, 20% recycled lithium, and 50% recycled cobalt in [its] cathode, and 100% recycled copper in the anode copper foil." 

Repurposing material will also support the U.S. economy, with Redwood Materials CCO Cal Lankton noting in the automaker's press release that Toyota's "responsible end-of-life management" for EVs is utilizing "domestically manufactured battery components."  

"Today, in collaboration with Redwood Materials, Toyota is making a decisive move toward a sustainable future," Lankton said

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