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Europe’s lithium-ion recycling industry to reach profitability by 2025— as it plays catch up to China

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 09:39 -- Paul Crompton

Europe’s lithium-ion battery recycling industry could be profitable within four years, as cost of recycling NMC cathodes is set to fall by just over a third to $40/kWh.

The decline of $23/kWh of the overall cost will come from lower dismantling and metallurgical costs, according to Akihito Fujita, senior manager at Nomura Research Institute America (NRI).

In comparison, China’s cost of recycling last year was around $32/kWh. Recyclers earnt a £10/kWh profit last year even if they paid for the used battery, say the consultancy firm.

During a presentation at EU Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC), Fujita said: “From 2025 Europe should be profitable with economics of scale. Even if the price of nickel-manganese-cobalt remains the same.

“I believe most of the cost reductions will be from economics of scale. I also hope that by 2030 cost will be better than 2025, and the industry will be even more profitable.”

He added: “Even if the same assumptions are used for Europe the scale of the recycling plant in China is already so large it has become profitable.”

In 2018, the global recycling market accounted for around 97,000 tonnes, with EU/US/Japan and Canada claiming 12% market share, South Korea a 19% share and China claiming the remaining share, according to NRI.

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