Authors: Piotr Grudzień and Maarten Buysse, Innovation Consultants at Bax & Company

In today’s Europe, there is a heightened awareness among citizens about the importance of recycling household waste. From a young age, Europeans are taught to sort their waste at home so it can be properly recycled. Several countries have implemented deposit-return schemes for items like glass bottles, incentivising consumers through financial returns. This culture of recycling and participation in circular economy practices is well-established for household waste, but is not so clear for something the majority of Europeans own: a car. For most, it is a mystery what happens to their car at the end of its life, if and how their car is recycled, obligations as a car owner, and other responsible entities.


In Belgium, the overall coordination of the collection, processing, and recycling of cars is spearheaded by Febelauto. As a non-profit Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO), Febelauto is responsible for the cars at the end of their (first) life and fulfils the waste management obligations of OEMs or importers. In 2022, Febelauto facilitated the collection of 81,350 vehicles through its network of over 100 authorised treatment facilities (ATFs), overseeing the administrative obligations, accurate reporting, and payments. Recently, the introduction of EVs and their lithium-ion batteries, brought with them new complexities, necessitating new ways of handling safety, processing, and recycling.

Map of Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs) in Febelauto’s network

The operational model: transition to high-voltage battery treatment

The introduction of an electric vehicle to the EU market, by either producers or importers, triggers extended producer responsibility (EPR) under the ELV Directive. This responsibility encompasses the end-of-life treatment of their products. Although they can organise the collection themselves, producers and importers often delegate this responsibility to PROs like Febelauto, which, in collaboration with car workshops ATFs, ensures the safe dismantling of vehicles. Compliance with the Febelauto Norm is mandatory for ATFs to join the network and handle high-voltage batteries safely, earning them the designation 'ATF+'. Currently, Febelauto’s network boasts more than 108 ATFs, including 6 ATFs+, such as Galloo and Belgian Scrap Terminal.

Febelauto supports producers and importers in both closed and open systems. In the closed system, the collection and logistics are managed internally by the OEMs, safeguarding their intellectual property and economic interests. Febelauto's role is then limited to reporting collected data to authorities. Conversely, in the open system, Febelauto offers comprehensive services, including logistics, storage, and recycling or repurposing of batteries, alongside its reporting obligations. Currently, around 95% of EV batteries and modules are sourced from car workshops within its network, primarily due to recalls or warranty claims. Only 5% of EV batteries come from ATFs, with the majority being recycled due to significant damage or degradation. As EVs get older, more batteries are likely to be suitable for repurposing. In 2022, Febelauto collected 5,715 EV batteries, weighing 136 tonnes, a stark contrast to the 23,500 tonnes of new EV batteries introduced to the Belgian market in the same year.

One of the car dismantling sites within the Febelauto network

The business model: seeking added value in circular management

Febelauto uses a pay-as-you-collect system, meaning that the OEM or importer pays once a year for all the batteries that have been processed. Other PRO systems require an upfront payment when bringing the product to market. This model is particularly beneficial for OEMs and importers, spreading the financial burden over time and aligning with the release of new models.


The cost per battery in the pay-as-you-collect system depends on the extent of damage to the battery, the complexity of handling required in terms of storage and transport, and whether they end up being recycled or repurposed. Damaged batteries entail higher costs due to the need for stringent safety measures during storage and transport, while batteries in better condition can generate profits for the OEM or importer. Febelauto offers the possibility to repurpose such batteries, which is beneficial for the importer or OEM. Instead of giving the battery away and having to pay for transporting and recycling costs, they now sell the battery to repurposing companies. For repurposers, which often struggle to secure sufficient number of retired batteries from OEMs, Febelauto can offer an additional source of supply. It’s a win-win situation, offering financial and environmental benefits.

Febelauto’s circular business model

The increasing number of EV batteries that must be collected presents various challenges for organisations like Febelauto. Their ATFs need upskilling and new tools to safely handle high-voltage batteries, and access to dismantling information is sometimes limited, resulting in challenges in battery status tracking. Febelauto addresses these challenges through innovation, such as enhancing reporting efficiency with a new QR-code based data management system. Each partner of Febelauto (workshop, dismantler) applies a QR code onto the module or pack and registers it in the system. This system facilitates real-time tracking of battery status, from collection to recycling or sale. Febelauto is also actively involved in various working groups which aim to improve ELV and battery regulations.

Repurposing use case: collaboration with Watt4Ever

For repurposing activities, Febelauto has a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Watt4Ever. It’s a company founded by five partners: Febelauto, Out of use, Eco-lithium, Revolta and Shence Management. While Febelauto takes care of the administrative and legal requirements, Watt4Ever takes care of all technical aspects of battery repurposing: dismantling, testing and certification, reassemby into energy storage systems, and delivery and installation at the customer’s site. This collaboration ensures that once Watt4Ever acquires a battery, it assumes full responsibility for the product and its lifecycle management.


Before repurposing, batteries must undergo a thorough assessment to determine their state of health (SoH) and safety. This process begins at the car workshop where a visual and electrical inspection is conducted and summarised in a ‘health document’ that is sent to Febelauto. Based on this document, Febelauto assigns healthy batteries to be repurposed and sends them to Watt4Ever. There, further assessments will be conducted to ensure the battery is suitable for repurposing.


In 2022, around 20% of the 136 tonnes of batteries handled by Febelauto were repurposed by Watt4Ever. Including OEM projects, around 40-50% of EV batteries reaching their end-of-first life were repurposed in Belgium. For instance, Watt4Ever built a 270kWh/240kW battery system for GreenYellow, a subsidiary of the Casino Group. The battery is installed in one of the Groupe Casino’s stores in St-Etienne, France, and is the first second-life storage system to provide Frequency Control Reserves in the entire country.


Considering access to retired EV batteries, dismantler networks like Febelauto prove to be important partners in improving battery circularity.

Stationary storage from repurposed EV batteries in St-Etienne, France

This case study was elaborated as part of the BatteReverse project by Bax & Company with input from Febelauto. The article is part of the Circular Business Cases series, which analyses existing business models for Li-ion batteries.

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