Lithium prices some huge cash—so why aren’t we recycling lithium batteries?

Image of batteries arranged in the outline of a recycling symbol.

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Earth Day is April 22, and its ordinary message—deal with our planet—has been given added urgency by the challenges highlighted within the newest IPCC report. This yr, Ars is looking on the applied sciences we usually cowl, from vehicles to chipmaking, and discovering out how we will increase their sustainability and decrease their local weather impression.

Electrical autos, energy instruments, smartwatches—Lithium-ion batteries are all over the place now. Nevertheless, the supplies to make them are finite, and sourcing them has environmental, humanitarian, and financial implications. Recycling is vital to addressing these, however a current examine exhibits most Lithium-ion batteries by no means get recycled.

Lithium and several other different metals that make up these batteries are extremely helpful. The price of uncooked lithium is roughly seven occasions what you’d pay for a similar weight in lead, however in contrast to lithium batteries, virtually all lead-acid batteries get recycled. So there’s one thing past pure economics at play.

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