According to an academic study Britain faces a new waste crisis from a “ battery mountain” caused by the growing use of electric cars.
Researchers have reportedly calculated that the one million electric cars sold in 2017 will produce 250,000 metric tons of unprocessed battery pack waste when they reach the end of their lives in seven to ten years’ time. This would be enough to fill 67 Olympic swimming pools.
The Telegraph reports that at present, the one million cars account for just 1.3% of annual worldwide sales but it is projected that electric cars could make up more than half of all new sales by 2040 as part of efforts to combat climate change. The researchers of the study say landfill is not an option for waste lithium batteries which are flammable and could release toxic chemicals such as cobalt, nickel and magnesium into the environment.
Professor Andrew Abbott, of Leicester University and co-author of the paper, told The Telegraph it was vital to find ways of recycling the batteries to safeguard the environment and extra precious metals and materials that could be reused.”Electrification of just two per cent of the current global car fleet would represent a line of cars that could stretch around the circumference of the Earth – some 140 million vehicles. Landfill is clearly not an option for this amount of waste,” he said.
“Finding ways to recycle EV batteries will not only avoid a huge burden on landfill, it will also help us secure the supply of critical materials, such as cobalt and lithium, that surely hold the key to a sustainable automotive industry,” added Abbott.