On the other hand, EV critics claim the manufacturing process uses up an inordinate amount of resources, and as a result, they are just as damaging to the environment as traditional motors.
The main environmental criticisms are reserved for the production of high-powered, electric car batteries, which do require a lot of nickel, cobalt, lithium, and other raw materials.
However, following a recent announcement from Tesla about a much improved battery recycling process, it seems this problem may have been solved.
What has Tesla said about battery recycling?
It’s no secret that Tesla has been looking at ways to make their
electric cars greener. Being environmentally friendly is part of Tesla’s ethos, and something its investors and customers care a lot about.
Electrekreports that Tesla has been working with third-party recyclers for years, trying to recover raw materials from their end-of-life battery packs, in order to repurpose them for new EV batteries.
But with the release of its
2020 Impact Report, Tesla provided details about a new, in-house process to undertake large-scale battery recycling, which can recover up to 92% of raw battery materials.
While the report was thin on details, 92% is far higher than any other battery recycling system has been able to achieve, and has the potential to revolutionize EV production.
Quoted by Electrek, a Tesla spokesperson said, "In the fourth quarter of 2020, Tesla successfully installed the first phase of our cell recycling facility at Gigafactory Nevada for in-house processing of both battery manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries...Onsite recycling brings us one step closer to closing the loop on materials generation."
The company can now mine its own raw materials
In essence, Tesla is working to become a producer of raw materials by extracting them from old batteries, and removing the need for traditional mining.
Even though Tesla only launched this new recycling process towards the end of last year, they were able to recycle 1,300 tons of nickel, 400 tons of copper, and 80 tons of cobalt at the plant in Nevada.
Tesla has now committed to integrating a battery recycling division into each of its manufacturing sites, minimizing the need for transporting the materials over long distances:
"Our (Tesla’s) goal is to develop a safe recycling process with high recovery rates, low costs and low environmental impact. From an economic perspective, we expect to recognize significant savings over the long term as the costs associated with large-scale battery material recovery and recycling will be far lower than purchasing additional raw materials for cell manufacturing."
Tesla hopes that this process will significantly reduce the need to source raw materials from suppliers and save them a lot of money in the process.
From a consumer perspective, Tesla’s initiative should translate to greener and
more affordable electric cars, which sounds like a win in our books!