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IESW 2024: A comprehensive overview of India's battery recycling industry

The battery recycling panel, which was the concluding panel on Day 2 of IESW 2024. From left: Pratyush Sinha, Deepak Mohapatra, Bhupesh Verma, ALN Rao and Dr Debaraj Mishra.

The plenary session on Day 2 of the India Energy Storage Week 2024 deliberated on a matter of critical importance to the battery sector and to India: what happens after battery life crosses five years? That's where recycling comes in.   

Bhupesh Verma, Manager, Market Research, CES & IESA, moderated the panel that exchanged views on key government policies and market dynamics of the battery recycling sector, BWMR and EPR guidelines, refurbishment and second life. The panel also spoke about the global recycling market, recycling technologies and key challenges and opportunities in the space.  

Moderator Bhupesh Verma, Manager, Market Research, CES & IESA, pointed out that recycling plays a crucial role in long-term sustainability of the battery industry by ensuring supply of raw materials, while also reducing dependency on imports. 

Dr Debaraj Mishra, Managing Director, Sangeel India Recycling gave an overview of the global recycling scenario. He opined that there will be huge quantity – almost 4.2 TWh of battery scrap by 2040. Of this, about 70 percent would come from end-of-life batteries from EVs and 15 percent would be production scrap from giga factories, he said.

By end of this year, global battery recycling pre-treatment capacity will be 3.3 million tonnes, with China accounting for nearly 60 percent of capacity, he said, adding that blackmass availability will surge from 55,000 tonnes at end of 2024 to 230,000 tonnes by 2030. 

Within the processes, hydrometallurgy is seen dominating the recycling process, with more than 90 percent of the market. 

Pratyush Sinha, VP-Special Projects, Lohum, spoke about the company's set-up. "Most recycling companies in India and mechanical recyclers but Lohum is a chemical recycler," he announced. 

"India's cost structures are competitive with the Chinese. India's recycling cost is five times lower than US and Europe. Therefore, we do not need to compete with the Chinese recyclers, but look for agreements with the US and EU to ensure there are no barriers in allowing material for recycling to come to India," he concluded.  

Sinha also spoke about key challenges facing the sector. Chief among these was traceability. "We need to be able to collect batteries and bring them back, we need to know if they are safe and usable to decide for second-life," he told the audience. He also elaborated on key second-life challenges, which include remaining useful life, residual value, application, battery management and product design. 

Deepak Mohapatra, Senior Officer – Business and Market Development, Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) spoke on the hazards of battery recycling if attempted in an unsafe manner. He also listed details from the agency's checks on recycling plants in Africa and elsewhere, and deficiencies found therein, as well as the need for strong government standards to ensure a socially-just recycling industry.  

ALN Rao, Consultant-Circularity & Sustainability in E-waste, Battery, Plastic and Critical Minerals, spoke ways to address BWMR guidelines, and focused on the importance of a proper pricing module.

"We have a large informal sector, so we can't copy-paste global rules, regulations or processes and need to come up with something constructive on our own," he opined.

He offered some way forward, pointing out that taxes play a vital role in deciding pricing structures. "Informal sector bucks taxes but formal sector cannot do that," he said. 

For more details of the IESW 2024, visit indiaesa.info

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