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A Circular Economy: Battery Recycling

Proterra is driving the shift towards a more sustainable future through its commitment to reducing waste and embracing recycling in battery technology. By prioritizing the full battery life cycle, including second-life applications and recycling, Proterra is leading the way towards a circular economy for clean technology.

Raw material extraction and processing have detrimental effects on the environment, such as soil degradation, water shortages, and biodiversity loss. Improper disposal of batteries also poses risks. That’s why it’s crucial to employ the right disposal methods for lithium-ion batteries, such as the “direct recycling” method, which allows for the recovery, regeneration, and reuse of batteries without compromising their chemical structure.

Proterra’s battery technology is designed with second-life applications and recycling in mind. When Proterra batteries reach the end of their life in a vehicle application, they retain a significant amount of energy that can be used in second-life applications like stationary energy storage before being recycled. To contribute to waste reduction and support a circular energy economy, in 2021 Proterra partnered with Redwood Materials, a leading battery materials company. Under this partnership, all Proterra batteries are sent to Redwood’s facilities for recycling at end-of-life. Through innovative recycling methods, Redwood Materials can recover 95-98% of the cathode raw materials in Proterra batteries and 100% of the aluminum in Proterra battery pack enclosures. Proterra’s recycling process aims to create a circular economy and minimize waste.

Emrah Arslanturk, Senior Director of Battery-as-a-Service at Proterra, emphasizes the benefits of Proterra’s relationship with Redwood Materials, “To close the loop and achieve the ultimate circular economy with our batteries, Proterra has maintained a long-standing partnership with verified battery recycler, Redwood Materials. For any scrap materials produced from our battery pack manufacturing, and returned batteries in severe conditions or undeployable state, we collaborate with our battery recycling partner to safely recycle any remaining, valuable raw materials that will be used in new battery production or other applications. We monitor our recycling partner to ensure they meet our quality, sustainability, and safety standards, and keep supporting our customers’ commitment to sustainability.”

Recycling lithium-ion batteries not only reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions compared to landfill disposal but also contributes to the expansion of the raw materials value stream needed for a domestic cell supply chain. The Union of Concerned Scientists predicts that by 2050, battery recycling could supply a significant percentage of the materials required for electric vehicles. In 2021, President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocated $60 million for second-life applications for EV batteries and new recycling processes.

By increasing the reuse and recycling of batteries at the end of their life, we can contribute to a circular economy and conserve natural resources. Since partnering with Redwood Materials, Proterra has already sent over 30,000 pounds of recyclable materials. As Redwood expands its collection network and Proterra grows its nationwide service and distribution network, we invite you to join us in creating positive change. Visit our website or fill out a contact form for more information.

Proterra’s dedication to reducing waste and embracing recycling in battery technology is driving the transition towards a more sustainable future. Through partnerships and innovative approaches, Proterra is leading the way in establishing a circular economy for clean technology. Join us in advancing our mission of powering a better, more sustainable world.