- Electric vehicles are key to decarbonise mobility. India’s ambitious electrification programme supported by upscaled domestic battery manufacturing will require a secured supply of battery materials.
- India plans to achieve 100% electrification of two and three wheelers and 65-70% electrification of buses by 2030.
- India is also one of the 130 signatories to the Zero Emissions Vehicle Declaration made at a side event at the UN Climate Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow in 2021.
- NITI Aayog in its 2022 report, ‘Advanced Chemistry Cell Battery Reuse and Recycling Market in India’, estimates that the cumulative potential of lithium-ion batteries in India during 2022-30 will be around 600 GWh across all segments. Of this, 128 GWh will be available for recycling by 2030 with 46% (59 GWh) coming from electric vehicles alone. Thus retired batteries have enormous potential to power India’s clean energy transition.
Battery waste management Rules 2022
- Battery waste management Rules 2022 cover all types of batteries –
- Electric Vehicle batteries,
- Portable batteries,
- Automotive batteries and
- Industrial batteries.
- The rules function based on the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). The producers (including importers) of batteries are responsible for the collection and recycling or refurbishment of waste batteries They are also responsible for the use of recovered materials from wastes for new batteries.
- On the basis of Polluter Pays Principle, environmental compensation will be imposed for non-fulfilment of Extended Producer Responsibility obligations.
- The rules promote setting up of new industries for recycling and refurbishment of waste batteries.
- The rules will also enable the setting up of a centralised online portal for the exchange of EPR certificates between producers and recyclers/refurbishers.
Lacunae in existing rules
- The existing rules lack specificity regarding the labeling of lithium-ion batteries. Proper knowledge of battery chemistry is essential to ensure efficient assembly, separation, and recovery in the recycling process
- The existing rules needs to promote recycling-friendly design of cells and batteries.
- Materials could also be designed for easier end-of-life management. For example, a water-based binder for electrode materials can reduce the use of toxic solvents to separate the current collector from the active material during recycling .
- The Extended Producer Responsibility fails to specify the budget that battery manufacturers should allocate for the collection and recycling of used batteries. The price that producers might end up paying to recyclers under EPR might be too low.
- There are also conerns over the lack of rules for storage, transport and handling of electric vehicle batteries that may lead to serious safety concerns.
Ideal loop of circularity
Passport for batteries
- The European Parliament adopted the Digital Battery Passport that mandates battery passport deployment by 2027.
- A battery passport is an electronic record for each battery in the market which carries information such as supplier information, material composition, manufacturer information, performance and information regarding recycling. The information is collected all along the battery’s lifecycle.
- It envisions a multi-stakeholder consensus on scope of data collection, access rights and data ownership.
- The batteries can be stamped with a QR code which can lead users to this information.
- It improves material sourcing decisions and reliable verification of environment, social and governance credentials of suppliers.
- For recyclers it will allow for more efficient disassembly and higher material recovery through better process control.
- As domestic electric vehicle manufacturing and market grow, more spent batteries will flood the recycling market. Recovering the valuable material locked inside the batteries is essential to improve material security, minimise waste and control environmental hazards.