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China building traction battery recycling system as NEV develops fast

China is speeding up to build a recycling system for electric-vehicle batteries. The purpose is to control environmental pollution and curb the waste of metal resources as the country is seeing a surging use of traction batteries due to the rapid development of its new energy vehicles (NEV).

According to the latest information released by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the country’s traction battery capacity has hit 131Gwh, ranking the first in the world. And a total of 12,600 tons of such batteries were generated during a three-year campaign alone in which 10 cities were selected each year to introduce more than 1,000 NEVs along with government subsidies.

Reports confirmed that under normal circumstances, the common definition for battery end-of-life is when 70 to 80 percent of original energy capacity remains. However, these batteries are still applicable in other areas even after they are replaced from the NEVs.

As a matter of fact, replaced NEV batteries, if not scientifically processed or recycled, will pose a major threat to public security and cause severe environmental pollution.

Experts predicted that about 200,000 tons of traction batteries will retire in 2020 in China, and 780,000 tons in 2025, placing huge pressure on the country’s battery recycling industry.

However, the distribution of retiring batteries in China is generally concentrated. Most of such batteries are located in cities where NEVs have been largely promoted, including Shenzhen, Hefei and Beijing, which is actually advantageous for the country in the aspect of dealing with scrapped batteries.

In 2018, joining hands with other departments, the MIIT released a regulation plan to establish management mechanisms pertaining to battery recycling and reutilization.

In addition, a platform to track the origins of scrapped batteries also went into service last year. So far, 393 carmakers, 44 scrapped car dismantling enterprises, 37 cascade utilization enterprises and 42 recycling enterprises have all joined the platform.

Besides, the MIIT is also piloting programs in 17 regions to explore new recycling modes that are economically efficient and environmentally friendly. So far, 3,204 recycling service stations have been established by 45 enterprises in the auto industry, mainly distributed in regions with high NEV density such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta.