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Updated: Apr 11

Sam Haig, our Battery Recycling Business Manager, discusses how EV battery manufacturers and recycling industries need to collaborate closely to make lithium-ion battery recycling safer, more efficient and sustainable.

“It is predicted that by 2040, 339,000* tonnes of Electric Vehicle batteries will reach end of life [*source: the University of Warwick’s, Automotive Lithium-ion Battery Recycling in the UK report]. That is a lot of batteries! There need to be robust recycling processes in place, so that high value metals such as lithium, nickel, cobalt and copper can be extracted and materials can be recovered and reused in other processes.


The EU Battery Directive (adopted by the UK) is set on minimising the negative impact of batteries, accumulators and waste batteries on the environment. For all lithium-ion batteries, a minimum of 50% of their weight must be recycled at end of life. This means that there is a great opportunity for manufacturers, recyclers and specialist battery processing companies to work together to ensure that EV batteries can be easy, safely and efficiently recycled.


There are many manufacturers, such as Nissan and Volkswagen, which are already investing heavily in end-of-life battery re-use and recycling. This needs to happen too as there are much greater environmental and workplace risks associated with the dismantling of EVs than traditional petrol or diesel motors. These are high voltage batteries that can easily ignite during the dismantling process, leading to the release of highly toxic chemicals such as hydrogen fluoride.


What the industry really needs is a strong commitment to the use of safer, more sustainable materials and standardisation in the way batteries are produced and controlled. This would make a huge difference to the safety and efficiency of the whole process.


It starts with the battery pack, which should be designed in such a way that they can be easily dismantled at end of life. There has also been a call for an extension of the current International Dismantling Information System (IDIS) to cover batteries. This would mean the components and construction of batteries has to be made visible so end of life recycling can be standardised. This would make the whole process much easier and safer using approved practices throughout the industry.


It is still the case that many recyclers are sending batteries to Europe for end-of-life processing - but this is expensive and is not a sustainable way forward. As the number of used EV batteries grows, there needs to be a network of specialist companies, like ourselves, who are able to carry out safe and effective lithium-ion recycling in the UK.


As sustainability is such a hot topic, there is talk of a Battery Passport being introduced, where every element of the battery is recorded, therefore making it more traceable. Although this may be some way off, it would certainly go in the right direction to ensure that more sustainable batteries are being produced in the future.


What is certain now is that in 10-15 years’ time, there will be a lot of EV batteries hitting the recycling industry – and they need to be handled safely and sustainably.


There also needs to be open communication around second life battery use in order to make the repurposing of batteries easier. From each battery, we recover valuable materials including cathode powder, copper, and aluminium. These materials remain suitable for onward processing and will create compounds available for use in the manufacture of new batteries. Our process is safe, low energy and environmentally friendly.


Looking to the future, we believe that regulations should be developed further so a larger proportion of the battery can easily be recycled. The proposed recast of the EU Battery Directive is a step in the right direction and we hope that the UK will follow suit with similar ambitions.


With the right level of investment, backed by legislation and a commitment from the whole industry this will mean all EV batteries can be recycled in the UK in the very best, most sustainable way.”


For more information call 0114 244 8050.

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Sam Haig, Battery Recycling Business Manager at RSBruce, reveals details of our new Battery Recycling service.


“For several months now, we have been busy investing in state-of-the art equipment, a dedicated area in the factory and the right personnel so we can offer a full lithium ion battery recycling service.


The Government’s drive towards decarbonising vehicles means that petrol and diesel cars and vans will be phased out by 2030. Over the past few years there has been a steady increase in the number of electric vehicles on our roads, supported by Government incentives, particularly for electric vans.


Our new service will involve stripping down the lithium ion batteries and putting them through a rigorous process which extracts metals and precious metals, making them available for selling into other processes, or for recycling. We are already servicing the market very successfully by recycling lithium ion batteries from laptops and mobile phones.


At the moment, many UK companies are exporting their lithium ion batteries to Europe and other parts of the world for recycling and material recovery, and this results in high transportation costs and a heavy burden on the carbon footprint. We are currently the only plant capable of offering effective lithium ion battery recycling in the UK and it is a potentially huge market.


There are major benefits for UK customers to have their batteries recycled here at our plant in Sheffield. Not only does it mean reduced costs and a lower carbon footprint, it also keeps valuable materials and precious metals here in the UK, which can be re-purposed in other processes. To give customers complete peace of mind, we also offer regular customer audits, so clients can be assured their products are being recycled responsibly.”


Why not find out more about how we could recycle and recover precious metals from your lithium ion batteries? Call 0114 344 8050 or email sam.haig@rsbruce.com

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Here at RSBruce, we take our impact on the environment very seriously, which is why throughout our facility we work towards a pledge to ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’.

This is especially important to us when managing our waste materials, which are reused and recycled wherever possible and when they can’t be reused are disposed of responsibly to protect the environment.

In addition to this, we also look at other ways to increase our level of recycling across the business and recently we got the chance to practice what we preach.

During a re-organisation of our storage facility a few months ago we came across an old piece of machinery, a Holman Wilfley gravity separation table, which is used for dividing heavy and light materials.

The table has been around since the early days of RSBruce and back when it was installed was used for separating precious metals from contaminants, such as ceramics or plastics. Following a facility upgrade a few decades later however it was put into storage, where it has remained ever since.

When we came across the equipment, we had to decide what to do; we could sell it on for parts, scrap it, or simply leave it in storage for a while longer, but none of these would be of benefit to the environment or to our business. We knew the better option would be to put the machine back into working order. Although the separating table hadn’t been put to work for quite some time, it was still in good working order and just needed a little care and attention to get it back to its original condition.

With this in mind, we decided to invest some of our time and resources into refurbishing the equipment. Knowing we would need a few replacement parts and some expert advice during the refurb we contacted Holman Wilfley for support.

The company were more than happy to help and working closely with Holman Wilfley’s Business Development Manager, David Goldburn, our Director Richard Thevenon along with members of our engineering team, got to work on bringing the separation table back into full working order.

After replacing numerous nuts and bolts, some cleaning and oiling here and there, plus a couple of new parts and lots of elbow grease and test runs, the machine was up and running in no time and now it’s taking pride of place amongst our many other pieces of state-of-the-art equipment.

Refurbishing the table was a particularly nostalgic task for Richard as he used the machinery to complete his first ever project when he joined RSBruce back in the 90’s.

He comments: “When I was told the Holman Wilfley table was being taken out of retirement, it brought back a whole host of memories and made me think about how far we have come as a business. RSBruce has changed so much since I joined over thirty years ago and I’m exceptionally proud to have been a part of its evolution, but this project just goes to show that all it takes is a little time and effort to bring an old piece of equipment back to life!”

“The separation table is just as relevant and useful today as it always has been. Refurbishing the machinery has given us both a great opportunity to teach the younger generation the more traditional ways of working and helped us to honour our pledge to reduce our impact on the environment and reuse where we can.”



Moving forward the Holman Wilfley separation table will be put to good use by our team as just one of the many methods we use for carrying out the separation and recovery of various precious metals, whether they be mechanical, chemical or thermal.

So, if you need support with your Precious Metal Recovery or would like help from our Lithium Battery Recycling, Toll Processing or Plant Cleaning divisions, get in touch. Call us on 0114 244 8050 or click here to complete our online contact form and a member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible: https://www.rsbruce.com/contact.

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