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A new report released by Umacore SA explored the lithium-ion battery recycling market, highlighting key industry trends and projecting future demand, growth, segmentation and market share for the period 2021-2028.

The lithium-ion battery is a rechargeable battery in popular demand for portable electronics, electric vehicles and in aerospace applications amongst others. Recycling can recover nearly 25-95 per cent of the lithium-ion cell’s material, depending on the type of technology used for the separation. These technologies include physical and mechanical processes, hydrometallurgical processes and pyrometallurgy processes. According to a new report by Umicore SA, the global lithium-ion battery recycling market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth (CAGR) of 22% during the seven-year forecast period, 2021-2028.

Projected growth of the lithium-ion battery recycling market. Image credit: Umicore SA

Lithium-ion battery recycling market dynamics

According to the Umicore report, Lithium ion Battery Recycling Market 2021 Industry Key Trends, Demand, Growth, Size, Review, Share, Analysis to 2028, the growth in the lithium-ion (li-ion) battery recycling market is expected to be driven by the increasing adoption and investment in the development of electric vehicles by various manufacturers around the world. This growing demand for electric vehicles presents a significant waste-management challenge for recyclers at the end of their useful life.

The report states that the world will produce 11 million metric tons of used li-ion batteries per year by 2030. Electric vehicle batteries use a lot of plastics, rare minerals, and metals. Because raw materials such as cobalt or lithium are difficult to obtain, the report shows that most businesses have implemented methods to recycle lithium-ion batteries, thereby increasing the market for li-ion battery recycling during the forecast period.

Because batteries contain heavy metals and hazardous chemicals, their direct disposal has raised environmental concerns due to water and soil contamination which can harm human health or the environment if they are not properly managed at the end of their useful life. As a result, various countries have imposed stringent regulations to encourage battery recycling and disposal after primary and secondary treatment. In Germany, for example, the law requires the deposit of expired batteries at designated stores in order for them to be recycled. The growing need for recycling in order to meet the growing demand for lithium-ion batteries is expected to boost the li-ion battery recycling market during the forecast period, according to the report.

Lithium-ion battery recycling market restraints

The restraints to the lithium-ion battery recycling market include the growing number of illegal battery recycling operators as well as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting and significant impact on industries all over the world. The lithium-ion battery recycling materials market is no exception. According to the research, global lithium-ion battery recycling has shown a slight decline as a result of the many manufacturing facility closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to this, the report shows that the pandemic resulted in a sudden drop in consumers’ interest in purchasing any goods, as well as a halt in transportation sectors, which has severely hampered the business of the recycling market due to disruption in the product’s supply chain management.

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Segment analysis

The global lithium-ion battery recycling market can be divided into four segments based on end-user: automotive, marine, industrial, and power. The report, which states that automotive is currently dominating the market, shows that this segment is expected to maintain its dominance in the forecast period due to rising demand and investments in the automotive sector and the growing popularity and demand for electric vehicles worldwide.

End-user segmentation of the lithium-ion battery recycling market. Image credit: Umacore SA

The market can also be segmented based on region, specifically Europe, North America, South America, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East & Africa. Segment analysis provided by the report shows that the market is dominated by China and India, both of which have significant lithium-ion manufacturing potential. In 2020, China was the largest holder of the passenger vehicles market with total sales amounting to approximately 20 million units. According to the data, China topped the lithium-ion battery market for electric vehicles and the country accounts for roughly 40% of global electric vehicle sales. As a result, the region’s growing number of end-users and li-ion battery manufacturing is driving the market for recycling plants.

End-user segmentation of the lithium-ion battery recycling market. Image credit: Umacore SA

According to the US Energy Information Administration, there will be 1.4 million electric vehicle sales in the United States by 2035, making North America the dominant region of the Li-ion battery recycling market during the forecast period. The Umicore SA report shows that, due to the EPA’s air emission standards in the North American region, demand for electric vehicles is expected to maintain similar trends in the coming years. The report states that due to the emergence of a new market for electric vehicles, Asia-Pacific is expected to grow the lithium-ion battery recycling market at the fastest rate during the forecast period with the energy storage system for residential and commercial applications driving the market in the region.

The competitive landscape

The lithium-ion battery recycling market is highly fragmented and competitive. Key players are pursuing various growth strategies, such as product launches, acquisitions, and collaborations, which are contributing to the global growth of the Li-ion battery recycling market.