Old lithium-ion batteries will either be re-used or broken down to "extract valuable materials".
With plans to “electrify” every mainstream model by the end of 2022, Honda is on a battery-powered offensive. New hybrid and electric cars have already been launched, and more are on the way. But the brand is thinking ahead, so when these new cars’ power-packs come to the end of their automotive life, there will be a new recycling scheme to ensure their costly components are not wasted.
The Japanese company already has a deal with SNAM (that’s the Société Nouvelle d’Affinage des Métaux), to trace and dispose of old batteries in accordance with EU guidelines, but that seven-year-old partnership is being extended further. Under the new arrangement, SNAM will collect lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries from across Honda's dealer network and authorised treatment facilities (ATFs) across 22 countries, before analysing how suitable they are for recycling and processing them accordingly.
The idea is that batteries deemed usable are given a new lease of life in renewable energy storage, or broken down into their components and recycled. Because the batteries contain substances such as cobalt, copper and lithium, they are valuable, and the metal can be extracted and recycled.
According to Honda, the cobalt and lithium is extracted using “hydrometallurgy techniques” - essentially using water-based solutions to separate out the metal - and can be used in the production of new batteries, colour pigments or even as additives for mortar. Other materials, including copper and plastics are recycled for a variety of common applications.
Under the new scheme, dealers will be able to arrange and request the collection of old ‘traction’ batteries for treatment and recycling through SNAM's dedicated online platform. Collection can be arranged from centralised storage hubs, so dealers don’t have to store batteries at their premises.
Tom Gardner, Honda Motor Europe’s senior vice-president, said increased interest in hybrid and electric cars meant the need for eco-friendly battery disposal would also grow.
“As demand for Honda’s expanding range of hybrid and electric cars continues to grow so does the requirement to manage batteries in the most environmentally-friendly way possible,” he said. “Recent market developments may allow us to make use of these batteries in a second life application for powering businesses or by using recent improved recycling techniques to recover useful raw materials which can be used as feedstock into the production of new batteries.”