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Why install an EV charger?

  • Don't rely on public chargers
  • Reduce your charging costs
  • Slash your carbon emissions

What Happens To Dead Electric Car Batteries?

Electric vehicle batteries can also be used for energy storage

These batteries can be broken down into valuable metals to be used again

Recycling electric vehicle batteries is an expensive process

Electric vehicles are more accessible than ever. Public chargepoints are increasingly common, and a home electric car charger installation costs much less than it did previously.

Drivers can now travel without having the guilt of knowing they’re releasing pollution into the atmosphere. But many EV owners still worry about what happens to the dead batteries once they’re no longer suitable for the vehicle.

The good news is that experts have found clever ways to recycle car batteries and limit their impact on the environment, and we’re here to tell you how.

Already set on buying yourself an EV? Bear in mind that once you have a charger installed, it's cheaper (and far easier) to charge your vehicle at home than to rely on public charging. If this sounds ideal for your home, get the best installation quote by using our easy-to-use comparison tool. Simply provide a few details about your home, and we’ll pass them on to our expert installers.

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Can electric car batteries be recycled?

Electric car batteries can be recycled, but that doesn’t always mean that they are.

These batteries wear down at a rate of about 2% per year, which means they won’t be suitable for an EV after about eight years – or after the car’s been driven for 100,000 miles. You can learn more about this on our page How Long Do Electric Car Batteries Last? 

Once your electric vehicle battery comes to the end of its life, you should get in touch with your local manufacturer’s garage, which can get it recycled and find you a replacement. The manufacturer then has three main options: send it to landfill, give it a second life, or recycle the parts.


One option is to simply send the used battery to landfill – but it’s not a popular choice.

Discarding the battery in this way is wasteful and can damage the local environment, as chemicals leak into the topsoil and contaminate local ecosystems. By throwing the battery away, manufacturers also miss out on the opportunity of reselling it for another purpose.

However, some manufacturers decide to go down the disposal route if the battery is damaged or if they’re located in a region that lacks the necessary market structure to resell batteries.

Second life

Most manufacturers will give the used battery a second life by reselling it for another purpose.

Although these batteries will no longer be suitable for electric vehicles after about eight years (or 100,000 miles), they’ll still have around 75% of their original capacity remaining, making them a valuable resource for less demanding activities.

A lot of used electric vehicle batteries are repurposed as energy-storage units to capture surplus solar energy.

By giving EV batteries this new lease of life, manufacturers can significantly reduce an EV’s negative impact on the environment (by reducing waste and limiting the need to extract more resources), whilst also financially profiting from the process – it’s a win-win.

Some major car manufacturers are working on their own repurposing projects to give their vehicles’ old batteries a new lease of life, including Nissan, which is using retired EV batteries to provide backup power to the Amsterdam Arena entertainment venue. Toyota will also be repurposing its used batteries by installing them outside shops in Japan, to store surplus solar energy.

Recycling for parts

All good things come to an end – including electric car batteries. Once EV batteries wear out in their second life, they’re broken down and separated into parts.

Once the parts are broken down, the manufacturer can start the mechanical and chemical separation process. The exact process will depend on the type of battery, but generally, parts can be ground down to a fine powder to extract raw materials, such as lithium, nickel, manganese, and lithium. The materials can then be used to rebuild more EV batteries.

How are EV battery parts recycled?

EV batteries are a bit like Russian dolls. On the outside, you can see the battery pack, but inside this sits dozens of modules. And in these modules sit hundreds of cells, which release and store electricity.

Inside each cell, lithium atoms move through an electrolyte (a solution) between a graphite anode (the negative electrode) and a cathode (the positive electrode).

Batteries are usually defined by the different types of metals that are in the cathode, which are usually either nickel-cobalt-aluminium, iron-phosphate, or nickel-manganese-cobalt. When recycling batteries, manufacturers primarily target these metals in the cathode, as they’re usually worth more money than lithium and graphite.

Recyclers have two key methods of extracting valuable metals from the battery:

  • Pyrometallurgy – This is the more common method, which involves mechanically shredding the cell and then burning it, leaving recyclers with a pile of different types of plastic, metals, and glues. At that point, they can use several methods to extract the metals, including further burning
  • Hydrometallurgy – Instead of burning the battery parts, this method involves dipping the battery materials into acid, which produces a pool of liquid metal
Cells inside an EV battery pack

How to properly dispose of an old electric car battery

Most automotive companies with an EV car range have introduced battery recycling schemes in recent years. So if your car’s battery has reached the end of its life, the best thing to do is get in touch with your local manufacturer’s garage, which can get it recycled and find you a replacement.

Ford, one of the world’s largest car companies, suggests its customers can bring their old EV battery to a local garage to be recycled, completely free of charge. The scheme runs in partnership with CarTakeBack and aims to make Ford EVs more sustainable.

Want to find out what sort of impact electric cars have on the planet? Head to our page Electric cars: Are They Really Greener?

What are the costs of recycling electric car batteries?

The cost of recycling car batteries is quite a controversial topic – whilst a lot of experts claim it’s still a pricey procedure, others suggest recyclers can still make a profit.

GLG Insights suggests that manufacturers can still benefit financially from recycling EV batteries.

Patrick Curran, GLG Network Member and Chief Executive Officer at Lithium Recycling Systems, suggests that one metric ton of batteries will cost about £73 ($90) to process. But once the metals have been separated, they can be sold – with ‘black mass’ (the mixture of nickel, manganese, and cobalt oxides with carbon) selling for about £246 ($300) and metals selling for about £410 ($500).

That’s a few hundred pounds of profit, which doesn’t sound too shabby. But there are lots of other costs to factor in when it comes to recycling EV batteries, such as transporting combustible items to recycling plants, which ramps up the price significantly.

When talking to Science Magazine, Gavin Harper, a University of Birmingham researcher, states that placing recycling centres in strategic places could have a “massive impact on the industry”.

What does the future of EV batteries look like?

As car manufacturers work to become sustainable, more EV batteries are being recycled and given a chance for a second life. It’s a path we need to take to reduce waste and reduce our impact on the planet.

But there’s still a long way to go before this becomes efficient – the costs need to come down and processes need to be simplified.

Thankfully, experts in the industry are already working on this.

The UK’s Faraday Institution is investigating whether manufacturers could use robots to disassemble batteries as part of its ReLib Project, which specialises in the recycling of Li batteries. Currently, people have to do this job by hand, which not only makes the process more time consuming, but also adds to the cost.

The team at the Faraday Institution has also developed an ‘ultrasonic’ recycling method, which could process 100 times more material over the same period than the hydrometallurgy method. One of the researchers told the BBC that the new process could also be done for less than half the cost of creating a new battery from fresh material.

And as more money is pumped into the EV industry, we can expect to see more of these innovative creations. That’s why the UK’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) has launched a £7 million ($8.5m) competition that will address challenges associated with the transition to zero-emission vehicles, including improving sustainability.

EV Battery Recycling Developments in the UK

EV battery recycling plants and programs are set to increase in the UK in the near future.

One company pushing for EV Battery recycling is startup Altilium Metals. It has received £3 million in funding from the government to showcase the viability of EV battery recycling. The company plans to construct a recycling plant in Teesside, England, capable of processing 150,000 car batteries a year.

In July of this year, the Recyclus Group opened what it claims to be the ‘first’ industrial-scale EV battery recycling facility, in Wolverhampton, England. The plant can process 8300 tonnes of EV batteries.


Electric vehicles are the future. Experts predict that over one in three new cars registered in the UK could be fully electric by the end of 2023. And by 2025, the ratio between electric and petrol cars is likely to be 1:1.

But to make this transition truly sustainable for the planet, we need to address the elephant in the room – the ugly side of EV batteries, which mainly comes down to lithium mining. Removing these raw materials from the ground can lead to soil degradation, water shortages, biodiversity loss, and an increase in global warming.

Thankfully, experts in the EV industry are working hard to find alternative, clean ways to build and recycle batteries.

If you’ve already got an EV, it’s worth installing a home charger to cut back on time and cost – which is where we come in. You can find the best installation quote with our easy-to-use comparison tool. Simply provide a few details about your home, and we’ll pass them on to our expert installers.

You can also read more about what the UK thinks about EVs in our 2023 National Home Energy Survey, where we found that just 55% of Brits would want a free electric car.

Written by:
Beth has been writing about green tech, the environment, and climate change for over three years now – with her work being featured in publications such as The BBC, Forbes, The Express, Greenpeace, and in multiple academic journals. Whether you're after a new set of solar panels, energy-saving tips, or advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint, she's got you covered.
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