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E-waste

E-Waste Day: Focus on the Role of Consumers

A recent study (PDF) shows that a European citizen disposes of up to 1.4kg of old or broken electronics in the mixed waste bins. For a standard household this means nearly 4kg a year. The situation is not much better in the US, where approximately 416,000 mobile phones each day are binned according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. That means more than 151 million phones are thrown away every year. All this e-waste is then managed with mixed waste and ends up either incinerated or landfilled. It is estimated that even up to 40% of the heavy metals in U.S. landfills come from discarded electronics.

This is also a true loss of resources which could re-enter the manufacturing cycle. For every million cell phones that are recycled, 16 000 kg of copper, 350 kg of silver, 24 kg of gold, and 14kg of palladium could be recovered. E-waste is a true ‘urban mine’, and in some respects even richer than traditional mining: for example, there is 100 times more gold in a tonne of smartphones than in a tonne of gold ore.

“There are so many factors that play a role in making the electronics sector resource efficient and circular. But one thing stands out: as long as citizens don’t return their used, broken gear to officially recognized collection points, or sell it on, or donate it to charity, we will need to continue mining the materials, which is much more damaging for the environment”, says Pascal Leroy, Director General of the WEEE Forum. “This is why the International E-Waste Day this year will focus on the responsibility we all have, as citizens, to help make the economy circular.” he added.

“Alongside convenience, (financial) compensation, care for environment, culture and social norms, awareness is one of the key motivators for people to take action and return their unused and non-functional electronic items” says Magdalena Charytanowicz, in charge of the organisation of International E-Waste Day. “This is why on 14 October this year we want to promote the proper disposal of end-of-life electronics and reach as many citizens worldwide as possible by encouraging campaigns and awareness activities. These may be e-waste collections, school lectures, press and social media campaigns or conferences that debate these issues. Even the smallest action promoting sound e-waste collection, repair, reuse or recycling is welcome in the frame of International E-Waste Day.”

Last year over 120 organisations from 50 countries worldwide supported the celebrations. This year too the WEEE Forum invites all organisations involved in effective and responsible e-waste management to plan awareness raising activities for 14 October and join this common effort by registering here.

E-Waste Day: Focus on the Role of Consumers

A recent study (PDF) shows that a European citizen disposes of up to 1.4kg of old or broken electronics in the mixed waste bins. For a standard household this means nearly 4kg a year. The situation is not much better in the US, where approximately 416,000 mobile phones each day are binned according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. That means more than 151 million phones are thrown away every year. All this e-waste is then managed with mixed waste and ends up either incinerated or landfilled. It is estimated that even up to 40% of the heavy metals in U.S. landfills come from discarded electronics.

This is also a true loss of resources which could re-enter the manufacturing cycle. For every million cell phones that are recycled, 16 000 kg of copper, 350 kg of silver, 24 kg of gold, and 14kg of palladium could be recovered. E-waste is a true ‘urban mine’, and in some respects even richer than traditional mining: for example, there is 100 times more gold in a tonne of smartphones than in a tonne of gold ore.

“There are so many factors that play a role in making the electronics sector resource efficient and circular. But one thing stands out: as long as citizens don’t return their used, broken gear to officially recognized collection points, or sell it on, or donate it to charity, we will need to continue mining the materials, which is much more damaging for the environment”, says Pascal Leroy, Director General of the WEEE Forum. “This is why the International E-Waste Day this year will focus on the responsibility we all have, as citizens, to help make the economy circular.” he added.

“Alongside convenience, (financial) compensation, care for environment, culture and social norms, awareness is one of the key motivators for people to take action and return their unused and non-functional electronic items” says Magdalena Charytanowicz, in charge of the organisation of International E-Waste Day. “This is why on 14 October this year we want to promote the proper disposal of end-of-life electronics and reach as many citizens worldwide as possible by encouraging campaigns and awareness activities. These may be e-waste collections, school lectures, press and social media campaigns or conferences that debate these issues. Even the smallest action promoting sound e-waste collection, repair, reuse or recycling is welcome in the frame of International E-Waste Day.”

Last year over 120 organisations from 50 countries worldwide supported the celebrations. This year too the WEEE Forum invites all organisations involved in effective and responsible e-waste management to plan awareness raising activities for 14 October and join this common effort by registering here.

Battery Recycling Demonstration plant completed

The battery recycling joint venture between Australian Securities Exchange listed Neometals and SMS Group, a privately owned German plant manufacturer, plans to recover all the LIB constituent materials with an efficient and environmentally friendly recycling solution that re-uses the products, including the generation of high-purity cathode chemicals for the battery supply chain.

The demonstration plant comprises a fully built shredding and beneficiation circuit (stage 1) and a hydrometallurgical refining circuit (stage 2). Stage 2 commissioning activities completed so far include water testing the entire leaching and solvent extraction circuits, leaching intermediate active materials (“black mass”) from stage 1, filtering the carbon anode residue, and commencing the first stage of solvent extraction (copper). Commissioning of the remaining solvent extraction steps (to recover cobalt, lithium, nickel, and manganese) will follow soon.

The demonstration plant, which has undergone extensive pilot trialing, will showcase Primobius’ integrated recycling solution in a dedicated, ongoing campaign to reduce LIBs, which are donated by EV and stationary energy storage partners, to their constituent materials for re-use. Product outputs from the trial will be evaluated by potential customers and off-takers.

“The demonstration plant trial will provide an opportunity for car, consumer electronics and battery manufacturers to verify Primobius’ capability to safely, sustainably and ethically dispose of hazardous LIBs to comply with all regulatory obligations,” says Horst Krenn, CEO of Primobius. Perhaps most importantly, the demonstration plant will highlight an opportunity for partners to watch their spent batteries go into the process and a range of products come out at the other end for supply chain evaluation.

The integrated trials are expected to start in October 2021 and finish by the end of November 2021. Thereafter, the demonstration plant will be modified and sections moved to meet the requirements of the 10-tpd shredder plant, which is due to offer commercial LIB recycling services from Q1 2022.

Battery Recycling Demonstration plant completed

The battery recycling joint venture between Australian Securities Exchange listed Neometals and SMS Group, a privately owned German plant manufacturer, plans to recover all the LIB constituent materials with an efficient and environmentally friendly recycling solution that re-uses the products, including the generation of high-purity cathode chemicals for the battery supply chain.

The demonstration plant comprises a fully built shredding and beneficiation circuit (stage 1) and a hydrometallurgical refining circuit (stage 2). Stage 2 commissioning activities completed so far include water testing the entire leaching and solvent extraction circuits, leaching intermediate active materials (“black mass”) from stage 1, filtering the carbon anode residue, and commencing the first stage of solvent extraction (copper). Commissioning of the remaining solvent extraction steps (to recover cobalt, lithium, nickel, and manganese) will follow soon.

The demonstration plant, which has undergone extensive pilot trialing, will showcase Primobius’ integrated recycling solution in a dedicated, ongoing campaign to reduce LIBs, which are donated by EV and stationary energy storage partners, to their constituent materials for re-use. Product outputs from the trial will be evaluated by potential customers and off-takers.

“The demonstration plant trial will provide an opportunity for car, consumer electronics and battery manufacturers to verify Primobius’ capability to safely, sustainably and ethically dispose of hazardous LIBs to comply with all regulatory obligations,” says Horst Krenn, CEO of Primobius. Perhaps most importantly, the demonstration plant will highlight an opportunity for partners to watch their spent batteries go into the process and a range of products come out at the other end for supply chain evaluation.

The integrated trials are expected to start in October 2021 and finish by the end of November 2021. Thereafter, the demonstration plant will be modified and sections moved to meet the requirements of the 10-tpd shredder plant, which is due to offer commercial LIB recycling services from Q1 2022.

Black Mass one of the hottest issues in battery recycling

What is Black Mass actually?

Jacques David

Jacques David: Black Mass is what you obtain once a battery has been processed for recycling. Batteries are composed of metals including lithium, manganese, cobalt, and nickel. Once a battery reaches the end of its service life, it is collected, dismantled, and shredded. The shredded material is then processed to produce “black mass”, which contains high amounts of these metals. These critical materials can then be extracted from the black mass and re-used in new battery production or in new products and/or applications.

Is there only one kind of Black Mass produced from one battery chemistry?
The composition of Black Mass is very diversified as the composition of Li-Ion batteries varies significantly from one producer to another and from one application to another. Different battery chemistries such as primary batteries and Ni-MH batteries also produce Black Mass. The composition of the Black Mass may vary significantly from OEM to OEM.

Can Black Mass processing be a profitable operation?
Depending on the content, yes it can. If a battery contains cobalt and nickel in certain quantities, then there will be no need to financially support the recycling operation.

Where are the major recycling facilities located today?
In China, Japan and South Korea there are large treatment facilities for batteries and battery waste, sometimes dealing with more than 50 000 tons per year. Many of these facilities have integrated the treatment of Black Mass mainly using a hydro-metallurgical process, which enables them to produce salts or metallic hydroxides which can be used as precursors.

What about European recyclers?
In Europe the recyclers have traditionally concentrated on battery recycling and have been waiting for bigger volumes of spent Li-ion batteries to become available before increasing capacity. Despite increasing volumes of Li-ion batteries needing recycling, the majority of the available tonnage comes from production waste from EV battery manufacturing or assembly facilities today. Challenges remain in order to reach the scale of Chinese capacity for Black Mass treatment.

What are the main challenges for EU operators?
European collectors and recyclers have always faced a lack of harmonization between different member States of the classification of spent Li-ion batteries. This creates a barrier to the development of the recycling market.

The expansion of Chinese battery and electric vehicle manufacturers operating in Europe will continue to give these companies a head start in the Black Mass recycling market here, and the developing practice of exporting Black Mass to Asia and the USA is certainly set to continue.

Is Black Mass waste?
Today, there is a lack of coherence between the various approaches to the definition of products coming from the treatment of waste batteries (Waste Directive Classification – Waste Batteries Directive – Chemicals Policy (EchA)). There is definitively a need for harmonization of the classification of spent batteries as a source of active materials to be used in new batteries or new applications. In the context of the EU Circular Economy Policy, the various precursors need to receive the same classification among EU Member States and among the international community.

Is there a Transport Regulation governing the transport and the export of spent batteries?
A harmonized International Transport Regulation (UN Model Regulation) regulates the transport of Dangerous Goods and another (Basel Convention) governs the transboundary movements of Hazardous Waste, such as the transport of certain spent batteries. Again, at international level there is a need to harmonize the conditions to transport the various types of “Black Mass”.

Black Mass one of the hottest issues in battery recycling

What is Black Mass actually?

Jacques David

Jacques David: Black Mass is what you obtain once a battery has been processed for recycling. Batteries are composed of metals including lithium, manganese, cobalt, and nickel. Once a battery reaches the end of its service life, it is collected, dismantled, and shredded. The shredded material is then processed to produce “black mass”, which contains high amounts of these metals. These critical materials can then be extracted from the black mass and re-used in new battery production or in new products and/or applications.

Is there only one kind of Black Mass produced from one battery chemistry?
The composition of Black Mass is very diversified as the composition of Li-Ion batteries varies significantly from one producer to another and from one application to another. Different battery chemistries such as primary batteries and Ni-MH batteries also produce Black Mass. The composition of the Black Mass may vary significantly from OEM to OEM.

Can Black Mass processing be a profitable operation?
Depending on the content, yes it can. If a battery contains cobalt and nickel in certain quantities, then there will be no need to financially support the recycling operation.

Where are the major recycling facilities located today?
In China, Japan and South Korea there are large treatment facilities for batteries and battery waste, sometimes dealing with more than 50 000 tons per year. Many of these facilities have integrated the treatment of Black Mass mainly using a hydro-metallurgical process, which enables them to produce salts or metallic hydroxides which can be used as precursors.

What about European recyclers?
In Europe the recyclers have traditionally concentrated on battery recycling and have been waiting for bigger volumes of spent Li-ion batteries to become available before increasing capacity. Despite increasing volumes of Li-ion batteries needing recycling, the majority of the available tonnage comes from production waste from EV battery manufacturing or assembly facilities today. Challenges remain in order to reach the scale of Chinese capacity for Black Mass treatment.

What are the main challenges for EU operators?
European collectors and recyclers have always faced a lack of harmonization between different member States of the classification of spent Li-ion batteries. This creates a barrier to the development of the recycling market.

The expansion of Chinese battery and electric vehicle manufacturers operating in Europe will continue to give these companies a head start in the Black Mass recycling market here, and the developing practice of exporting Black Mass to Asia and the USA is certainly set to continue.

Is Black Mass waste?
Today, there is a lack of coherence between the various approaches to the definition of products coming from the treatment of waste batteries (Waste Directive Classification – Waste Batteries Directive – Chemicals Policy (EchA)). There is definitively a need for harmonization of the classification of spent batteries as a source of active materials to be used in new batteries or new applications. In the context of the EU Circular Economy Policy, the various precursors need to receive the same classification among EU Member States and among the international community.

Is there a Transport Regulation governing the transport and the export of spent batteries?
A harmonized International Transport Regulation (UN Model Regulation) regulates the transport of Dangerous Goods and another (Basel Convention) governs the transboundary movements of Hazardous Waste, such as the transport of certain spent batteries. Again, at international level there is a need to harmonize the conditions to transport the various types of “Black Mass”.

Black Mass one of the hottest issues in battery recycling

What is Black Mass actually?

Jacques David

Jacques David: Black Mass is what you obtain once a battery has been processed for recycling. Batteries are composed of metals including lithium, manganese, cobalt, and nickel. Once a battery reaches the end of its service life, it is collected, dismantled, and shredded. The shredded material is then processed to produce “black mass”, which contains high amounts of these metals. These critical materials can then be extracted from the black mass and re-used in new battery production or in new products and/or applications.

Is there only one kind of Black Mass produced from one battery chemistry?
The composition of Black Mass is very diversified as the composition of Li-Ion batteries varies significantly from one producer to another and from one application to another. Different battery chemistries such as primary batteries and Ni-MH batteries also produce Black Mass. The composition of the Black Mass may vary significantly from OEM to OEM.

Can Black Mass processing be a profitable operation?
Depending on the content, yes it can. If a battery contains cobalt and nickel in certain quantities, then there will be no need to financially support the recycling operation.

Where are the major recycling facilities located today?
In China, Japan and South Korea there are large treatment facilities for batteries and battery waste, sometimes dealing with more than 50 000 tons per year. Many of these facilities have integrated the treatment of Black Mass mainly using a hydro-metallurgical process, which enables them to produce salts or metallic hydroxides which can be used as precursors.

What about European recyclers?
In Europe the recyclers have traditionally concentrated on battery recycling and have been waiting for bigger volumes of spent Li-ion batteries to become available before increasing capacity. Despite increasing volumes of Li-ion batteries needing recycling, the majority of the available tonnage comes from production waste from EV battery manufacturing or assembly facilities today. Challenges remain in order to reach the scale of Chinese capacity for Black Mass treatment.

What are the main challenges for EU operators?
European collectors and recyclers have always faced a lack of harmonization between different member States of the classification of spent Li-ion batteries. This creates a barrier to the development of the recycling market.

The expansion of Chinese battery and electric vehicle manufacturers operating in Europe will continue to give these companies a head start in the Black Mass recycling market here, and the developing practice of exporting Black Mass to Asia and the USA is certainly set to continue.

Is Black Mass waste?
Today, there is a lack of coherence between the various approaches to the definition of products coming from the treatment of waste batteries (Waste Directive Classification – Waste Batteries Directive – Chemicals Policy (EchA)). There is definitively a need for harmonization of the classification of spent batteries as a source of active materials to be used in new batteries or new applications. In the context of the EU Circular Economy Policy, the various precursors need to receive the same classification among EU Member States and among the international community.

Is there a Transport Regulation governing the transport and the export of spent batteries?
A harmonized International Transport Regulation (UN Model Regulation) regulates the transport of Dangerous Goods and another (Basel Convention) governs the transboundary movements of Hazardous Waste, such as the transport of certain spent batteries. Again, at international level there is a need to harmonize the conditions to transport the various types of “Black Mass”.

Battery recycling with zero-carbon collection service

Valpak’s Re-Volt scheme, which has already been established in London and Cambridge, supplies battery boxes to businesses, which are then collected by Zedify couriers free of charge whilst they’re delivering packages across the city. The scheme adds to Valpak’s existing battery service, which collects millions of batteries from over 30,000 UK businesses, including household names such as Sainsburys, Co-op and M&S.

James Nash, Commercial Manager at Valpak, the environmental company behind the scheme, said: “The expansion of the zero-carbon scheme to Brighton is proving beneficial already and we’re urging businesses of all sizes to take advantage of the service. This is a triple-win for businesses – ensuring that batteries are recycled correctly, helping businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and, importantly, making sure that enough batteries are recycled each year to allow retailers to meet their compliance obligations.”

Tom Scruby, National Operations Manager at Zedify, said: “The partnership between Valpak and Zedify has been an unparalleled success, proving that zero emission vehicles complete city centre collections of this type more efficiently than diesel vehicles. We have only received positive feedback from customers and local authorities alike.

“Brighton companies have particularly shown an appetite for more sustainable operating methods. These make the city a better place to live, and also benefits the wider community.”

The scheme initially launched in Cambridge and has generated more than three tonnes of batteries to date. Following such a positive reaction to the world-first scheme, London was next to welcome the zero-carbon collection service. The capital has already collected over 10 tonnes of batteries, with more customers coming online for future collections.

While collection vehicles typically tot up 298 kg of CO2 for every mile, Zedify’s bikes emit zero C02, no matter how many journeys they take. They also help to avoid congestion and delays caused by waiting in traffic queues. The scheme has been welcomed by the environmentally-conscious city to help reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Nash said: “The aim is to include battery removal as an additional service for existing delivery customers. As well as slashing emissions, the scheme helps to attract new sources of waste batteries, which drives greater volumes for recycling.”

In the UK, around 40,000 tonnes of portable batteries were sold in 2018, with only around 18,000 tonnes being recycled.

Battery recycling with zero-carbon collection service

Valpak’s Re-Volt scheme, which has already been established in London and Cambridge, supplies battery boxes to businesses, which are then collected by Zedify couriers free of charge whilst they’re delivering packages across the city. The scheme adds to Valpak’s existing battery service, which collects millions of batteries from over 30,000 UK businesses, including household names such as Sainsburys, Co-op and M&S.

James Nash, Commercial Manager at Valpak, the environmental company behind the scheme, said: “The expansion of the zero-carbon scheme to Brighton is proving beneficial already and we’re urging businesses of all sizes to take advantage of the service. This is a triple-win for businesses – ensuring that batteries are recycled correctly, helping businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and, importantly, making sure that enough batteries are recycled each year to allow retailers to meet their compliance obligations.”

Tom Scruby, National Operations Manager at Zedify, said: “The partnership between Valpak and Zedify has been an unparalleled success, proving that zero emission vehicles complete city centre collections of this type more efficiently than diesel vehicles. We have only received positive feedback from customers and local authorities alike.

“Brighton companies have particularly shown an appetite for more sustainable operating methods. These make the city a better place to live, and also benefits the wider community.”

The scheme initially launched in Cambridge and has generated more than three tonnes of batteries to date. Following such a positive reaction to the world-first scheme, London was next to welcome the zero-carbon collection service. The capital has already collected over 10 tonnes of batteries, with more customers coming online for future collections.

While collection vehicles typically tot up 298 g of CO2 for every mile, Zedify’s bikes emit zero C02, no matter how many journeys they take. They also help to avoid congestion and delays caused by waiting in traffic queues. The scheme has been welcomed by the environmentally-conscious city to help reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Nash said: “The aim is to include battery removal as an additional service for existing delivery customers. As well as slashing emissions, the scheme helps to attract new sources of waste batteries, which drives greater volumes for recycling.”

In the UK, around 40,000 tonnes of portable batteries were sold in 2018, with only around 18,000 tonnes being recycled.

Battery recycling with zero-carbon collection service

Valpak’s Re-Volt scheme, which has already been established in London and Cambridge, supplies battery boxes to businesses, which are then collected by Zedify couriers free of charge whilst they’re delivering packages across the city. The scheme adds to Valpak’s existing battery service, which collects millions of batteries from over 30,000 UK businesses, including household names such as Sainsburys, Co-op and M&S.

James Nash, Commercial Manager at Valpak, the environmental company behind the scheme, said: “The expansion of the zero-carbon scheme to Brighton is proving beneficial already and we’re urging businesses of all sizes to take advantage of the service. This is a triple-win for businesses – ensuring that batteries are recycled correctly, helping businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and, importantly, making sure that enough batteries are recycled each year to allow retailers to meet their compliance obligations.”

Tom Scruby, National Operations Manager at Zedify, said: “The partnership between Valpak and Zedify has been an unparalleled success, proving that zero emission vehicles complete city centre collections of this type more efficiently than diesel vehicles. We have only received positive feedback from customers and local authorities alike.

“Brighton companies have particularly shown an appetite for more sustainable operating methods. These make the city a better place to live, and also benefits the wider community.”

The scheme initially launched in Cambridge and has generated more than three tonnes of batteries to date. Following such a positive reaction to the world-first scheme, London was next to welcome the zero-carbon collection service. The capital has already collected over 10 tonnes of batteries, with more customers coming online for future collections.

While collection vehicles typically tot up 298 g of CO2 for every mile, Zedify’s bikes emit zero C02, no matter how many journeys they take. They also help to avoid congestion and delays caused by waiting in traffic queues. The scheme has been welcomed by the environmentally-conscious city to help reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Nash said: “The aim is to include battery removal as an additional service for existing delivery customers. As well as slashing emissions, the scheme helps to attract new sources of waste batteries, which drives greater volumes for recycling.”

In the UK, around 40,000 tonnes of portable batteries were sold in 2018, with only around 18,000 tonnes being recycled.