Battery recycling is a key component in creating a circular economy for electric vehicles, however it is an ever-evolving industry. Increasingly we see graphite becoming a more important material that requires recycling as a direct result of trading tensions between the US, Europe and China. Consequently, a number of companies are investing into the industry.

Use in Batteries

Graphite, both natural and synthetic, is used as anode material in most lithium-ion batteries, comprising up to 30% of a battery’s weight. Graphite has a lower price compared to lithium, cobalt or manganese so the recycling industry has, until recently, overlooked it.

Trade Disputes

However, on the 1st of December 2023 China introduced additional export controls on graphite as part of the US and China’s ongoing trade disputes. The Chinese government already had export controls on synthetic graphite and battery anode materials but in December it extended the controls to include the addition of natural graphite. Although this had minimal impact on battery markets it raised awareness of China’s global dominance in the graphite industry, with it controlling around 70% of the world’s graphite markets. Subsequently, as Europe and North America look to reduce their dependence on China and foster home-grown battery industries a number of players are looking to expand their graphite recycling capabilities.

Graphite Recycling Players

In November…

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Image credit: Adobe Stock