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Biden administration announces multimillion-dollar effort to make battery recycling more affordable: 'Puts the U.S. in the driver's seat'

The move should also help to support a growing electric vehicle market.

The move should also help to support a growing electric vehicle market.

Photo Credit: iStock

The United States government has pledged $62 million to fund 17 projects to "improve the economics of battery recycling." 

Batteries used in consumer electronics are among the main focus areas, and recycling will reduce the demand for raw materials for new products and lower costs in the supply chain. The move should also help to support a growing electric vehicle market.

Meanwhile, since batteries contain toxic chemicals and pose a risk of fire after disposal, recycling should help to mitigate these associated risks.

"Capturing the full battery supply chain — from sourcing critical materials to manufacturing to recycling — puts the U.S. in the driver's seat as we build our clean energy economy," U.S. secretary of energy Jennifer M. Granholm said in a statement. 

"With the historic support in President Biden's Investing in America agenda, we are creating a sustainable, circular supply chain that lowers costs for consumers and boosts our manufacturing global competitive edge."

The move furthers the United States' commitment to a sustainable future, following the Inflation Reduction Act and Investing in America agenda — the former makes it more affordable to invest in carbon-reducing technologies, and the latter is creating a wealth of green jobs through domestic manufacturing.  

With electric vehicle sales soaring in the country and e-waste becoming an increasing concern, it's no surprise that battery recycling is at the forefront of government policy. 

Indeed, electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids made up 16% of light-duty vehicle sales in the U.S. in 2023, up from 12.9% in 2022, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Meanwhile, the Public Interest Research Group estimates that 6.9 million tons of e-waste is generated in the country each year. 

One of the biggest criticisms among electric vehicle skeptics is battery recycling. Doubters suggest EVs aren't as environmentally friendly as advertised because batteries are difficult to break down once they reach the end of their life, meaning valuable resources are wasted and cannot be used again.

This is demonstrably false, with battery recycling facilities opening across the United States, especially in the southern states, and salvaging materials at a remarkably high rate.

In addition to ensuring existing materials don't go to waste, battery recycling reduces the need to mine for new ones, which can be damaging to the planet. Lithium mining, for example, requires vast amounts of fresh water, and sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide used in extraction can pollute soil and water. Mining can also lead to the displacement of indigenous communities and sometimes deforestation. 

Investment in recycling will help to stop such damage while also silencing the doubters of battery-powered technology.

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