For many years, rechargeable batteries have primarly been utilised in portable devices and managed at their end-of-life by well-established national battery collection schemes. However, batteries installed in electric vehicles (EVs) require a different set of reverse logistics processes due to their significantly larger size, higher energy capacity, and safety concerns. Consequently, a new set of stakeholders is required, ranging from EV repair workshops and refurbishers to specialised logistics operators, safety packaging OEMs, repurposers, recyclers, and data management platforms.
While the demand for new EV batteries has already grown exponentially, the number of used car batteries remains relatively small, and an established end-of-life value chain for EV batteries is yet to be developed. One of the key goals of BatteReverse is to connect reverse logistics stakeholders. As the first step towards achieving this goal, we have mapped companies that play an instrumental role in the management of EV batteries in Europe. Divided into 14 stakeholder types, this interactive map explains their specific roles and allows users to explore the locations and websites of over 140 companies. The map is continuously updated, and relevant companies can apply to be included.
In the future, the map will be enriched with additional market intelligence – sign up to the BatteReverse Community to learn more.
These companies produce battery cells according to the requirements of their application (e.g. electric vehicles). Each cell is made of cathodes, anodes, a separator, and electrolyte, and they can have various shapes: cylindrical, pouch, and prismatic. Cells are typically transported to another facility where they are integrated into modules and battery packs, ready to be installed in electric vehicles. Production scrap from the cell manufacturing process is collected and transported to a recycling facility.
EV OEMs play a crucial role in the reverse logistics of batteries since they introduce EVs to the market and thus hold the Extended Producer Responsibility, which means they are responsible for the treatment of batteries coming from the production process and from end-of-life EVs. EV OEMs also train their authorised workshops on how to repair and extract batteries from EVs.
Refurbishers are typically independent car workshops specialised in the repairs of electric vehicles. They perform an assessment of batteries and replace damaged/degraded batteries to restore their original condition or upgrade them. Refurbishers are often experts in reverse engineering - holding know-how on communications with the battery management system of various EV brands.
Car dismantling network
Car dismantlers (Authorised Treatment Facilities or ATFs) are car recycling companies which hold a permit to dismantle and depollute scrap cars according to the End of Life Vehicle Directive. ATFs are the only organisations that can issue car owners with a Certificate of Destruction - a document to prove responsibility for the vehicle has ceased. Car dismantlers become the owners of parts from vehicles, including EV batteries, which can be sold to repurposers or sent to recyclers.
These companies produce packaging for the safe transportation and storage of batteries which are used by logistic operators. There are several types of packaging which depend on the state of safety (SoS) of the battery, which is defined by the battery owner (EV OEM, car dealership, dismantler): green (new and undamaged), yellow (prototypes, used, and non-critically damaged), and red (critically damaged).
Battery collection scheme
Battery collectors (or National Collection Schemes for Batteries) usually offer a wide range of services for EV battery disposal, e.g. they organise the collection of li-ion batteries from dealers and dismantlers, as well as transport to the recycler or re-user in accordance with the preferences of the car producer. They also fulfil the reporting obligations.
Third-party logistics operator
3PL operators are responsible for transportation of the battery packs and modules, ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and safety standards. These companies may work with recyclers or other companies that specialise in the processing of end-of-life batteries. 3LP for black mass is responsible for safely and securely transporting the black mass from the pretreatment plant to the metal refineries.
Repurposers give a new life to batteries that are no longer suitable for electric vehicles but have sufficient state of health for less demanding applications. This stakeholder may use the whole battery pack or dismantle it into moduels or cells develop a new product. The two main applications for repurposed EV batteries are behind-the-meter (e.g. residential) and front-of-the-meter (grid scale) stationary energy storage systems.
The pretreatment process involves discharge, dismantling, mechanical shredding, and sorting. The outcome of these steps is a black mass, which is a mix of the battery active materials (such as cobalt, nickel, manganese and lithium). These companies receive end-of-life batteries from different stakeholders (e.g. EV OEMs) and they send the black mass to metal refineries.
The material refinement companies collect black mass that comes from the pretreatment plant and refine it to get secondary raw materials such as nickel sulphate, cobalt sulphate, manganese carbonate, and lithium carbonate. Modern facilities most commonly use a highly efficient hydrometallurgical process which involves steps such as leaching, solid-liquid separation, purification, and precipitation. Resulting materials are sold to producers or cathode active materials.
Systems/platforms that provide all the services necessary for the end-of-life management of EV batteries, including collection, logistics, testing, document generation, transfer of ownership, and data analysis of batteries.
Data management platform
These platforms offer various data management services throughout the full life cycle of the battery, such as traceability, regulatory compliance, carbon footprint analysis, state-of-health characterisation, and safety monitoring. Most platforms are related to the regulation on battery passports, which establishes principles of data sharing between battery stakeholders.
2nd life marketplaces help to connect supply and demand of batteries from EVs. Customers (individuals or businesses) can use these platforms to sell or buy batteries in the form of packs, modules, or cells, while the marketplace operator usually handles the logistics, data exchange, and transactions.
Research & innovation
Research institutes and innovation actors help improve the reverse logistics of batteries by advancing research on technologies and developing new business solutions. CEA, Inegi, Centria, and UPV are the coordinators of Horizon Europe projects under the call HORIZON-CL5-2022-D2-01-10, which aims to develop streamlined collection and reversed logistics, fully automated, safe, and cost-efficient sorting, dismantling, and second use before recycling.