The handling of EV batteries has disrupted reverse logistics in Europe due to increased safety concerns, new regulations, unprecedented volumes of expected waste, and strategic interest in recycling critical raw materials. EV OEMs, recyclers, logistics companies, and economic operators are adopting innovative processes and circular business models to ensure reliable battery assessment, safe packaging, cost-efficient transportation, and rapid dismantling. Representatives from the BatteReverse project convened last June at the 2024 Battery Recycling Conference & Expo in Frankfurt to discuss these topics in panel discussion called ‘How To Efficiently Manage The Reverse Logistics Of EV Batteries: Challenges, Industry Best Practices And Future Developments’.  Moderated by Maarten Buysee (Bax), the panel aimed to explore the most efficient strategies for the reverse logistics of EV batteries, drawing on the experiences of the BatteReverse project and our community members.

Núria Gonzalez-García (Betteries) represented the perspective of the repurposer and discussed the primary bottlenecks they are facing, mainly related to economic viability. New, inexpensive, and high-performing batteries currently available on the market challenge the business case of second-life applications, and, consequently, battery circularity. The battery market is highly volatile and changes every year, making it hard to establish a stable model for battery second life. Additionally, the recycling demands in the upcoming Battery Regulation are not in favour of battery second life.

Nicolas Louchez (The Future is Neutral) shared experiences from the logistics perspective, focusing on the cost aspect and the importance of partnerships in establishing an effective reverse logistics chain. He emphasised that the costs of reverse logistics will ultimately fall on someone, and if inefficiently organised, this burden will likely be passed on to the end-user of the EV. However, with the right partnerships, economies of scale, and effective logistical planning, these costs can be reduced, making reverse logistics - and thus circularity -a viable business case for OEMs as well. Additionally, the regulation and classification of used batteries as waste complicate the handling of used EV batteries more than necessary, indicating there is room for improvement.

Farouk Tedjar (TES) discussed the recycler's perspective, focusing on the changing battery chemistries and how their differing material values influence the management of battery end-of-life. Additionally, his involvement at the policy level, such as advising on UN standards for transporting hazardous waste, provided valuable insights into the complexity of the topic.

Udo Roth (Denios) addressed the topic of safe and intelligent battery packaging, covering aspects of battery monitoring, communication, regulation, and cost. He emphasised the importance of developing a business model that clarifies ownership and usage of the packaging boxes, ensuring that regulations on certification and battery classification do not result in overdesigned boxes, which would drive up the costs of reverse logistics. In the event of a thermal runaway emergency, it is crucial to establish a protocol detailing who receives alerts and how these alerts are managed.

Panel members Udo Roth, Farouk Tedjar, Nicolas Louches, Núria Gonzalez-García, and moderator Maarten Buysse.
Moderator Maarten Buysse (Bax)