China’s battery recycling market has been gaining attention from industry leaders such as CATL, as evidenced by the recent launch of “Lithium ++,” the country’s first internet platform for recycling lithium batteries.
Hu Ying, CEO of Lithium ++, stated that China has developed a lithium battery recycling system that serves a diverse range of industries, including car companies, battery factories, battery recycling companies, and alliances. The new platform aims to establish a more advanced, intelligent, and eco-friendly lithium battery recycling chain.
As the prices of battery raw materials have been steadily rising in recent years, recycling technology has emerged as a viable solution for manufacturers to decrease costs by reusing a significant portion of these materials.
On January 30, CATL announced its plans to invest 23.8 billion yuan ($3.46 billion) to establish a new material production base with the capacity to recycle 500,000 tons of waste battery materials. The company places a significant emphasis on recycling, as most of the materials used in batteries can be repurposed, as per Robin Zeng, the chairman of CATL. The recovery rate for nickel, cobalt, and manganese stands at an impressive 99.3%, and the recovery rate for lithium exceeds 90%. Zeng has further stated that by 2035, the company aims to fulfill a significant portion of market demand by using materials from retired batteries, further exemplifying CATL’s steadfast commitment to sustainability and responsible resource management.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has reported that the national output value of the lithium-ion battery industry exceeded 1.2 trillion yuan ($174 billion) in 2022. Furthermore, according to GGII, a Chinese research firm, the output of retired batteries in China is projected to reach 137.4 GWh by 2025, with approximately 960,000 tons of used batteries that could be recycled. These figures highlight the immense scale of the battery industry in China and the growing importance of battery recycling.
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According to Tianyancha, a commercial information query platform, there are currently over 73,000 businesses in China with operations related to battery recycling. With approximately 36,000 of these companies established in 2022 alone, this marks a substantial increase from prior years. Prior to 2018, only 6,000 companies were engaged in this field.
Despite the growing interest in China’s battery recycling market, the industry remains fragmented with inadequate policies regarding traceability and recycling. Strict qualification standards for recycling battery companies have resulted in a proliferation of small startups. In addition, industry giants like BYD and CATL have implemented changes that have made it difficult to disassemble and recycle their batteries. These circumstances have contributed to the need for a platform like Lithium ++ to address challenges faced by the industry.