Redwood recycling bins will be installed at select Audi dealerships nationwide throughout November 2022, collecting consumers’ used batteries and devices, like phones and laptops. These will be returned to Redwood, which will extract critical materials and deliver them to domestic cell manufacturers. Less than 5% of rechargeable batteries in devices like mobiles and laptops get recycled today – Redwood and Audi aim to make repurposing easier with this partnership.
Lithium-ion batteries contain minerals like cobalt, copper, nickel and lithium. These are metals that can be recycled almost infinitely, so old devices can become new EV batteries without performance trade-offs, according to Redwood founder JB Straubel. The start-up already recycles end-of-life EV batteries from Volkswagen and Audi, with similar partnerships in the works with Toyota, Ford, Volvo and more.
As EVs gain more traction, more battery materials will be needed to meet requirements. And with global demand for lithium-ion batteries expected to grow by more than 500% in the next decade (Wood Mackenzie, 2022), decreasing reliance on mining and pivoting to domestic remanufacturing are approaches towards a closed-loop battery supply chain. By reducing the need for imports and avoiding environmental damage from mining, EVs can become more sustainable and their costs can be lowered.