Battery recyclers surveyed at ICBR 2019: The future of battery recycling appears optimistic
A survey of participants at the International Congress for Battery Recycling ICBR 2019, which was held last week in Lyon, France, illuminates the current prevailing opinions and expectations of experts in the field regarding future business prospects in battery recycling. The results of the survey are summarized in the “Industry Barometer ICBR 2019”.
The findings of the survey provide an idea of expert projections concerning the economic conditions and current business situation of the battery recycling sector. According to the survey, conducted by the ICBR Steering Committee, approximately 58 percent of the participants expect the general economic conditions for the battery recycling industry to improve during the next two years. Furthermore, about 25 percent of those surveyed expect business to remain at a stable level and only 18 percent expect business to slow down in future. When asked about the current business situation in terms of volume and profitability, approximately 50 percent of the participants in the survey rate the current business situation as good, 34 percent see no change compared to the previous year and 16 percent feel they are not satisfied with the current business situation.
Those surveyed were also asked about current and future volume trends of the battery recycling industry. Approximately 68 percent of respondents say that volumes are currently developing positively. Around 32 percent see no change in the development of volumes in contrast to the previous two years and none of the respondents perceive a decrease in current volume development. With respect to future volume trends in the industry, battery recyclers appear even more optimistic. Some 78 percent of the participants predict battery volume growth over the following two years whereas about 22 percent expect to see stable development and none of the respondents foresee a decrease in volume.
The responses given by the participants in the survey also highlight the central opportunities and challenges facing the battery recycling business. Regarding business performance, those surveyed particularly emphasize the growing market for battery applications as the the quantity of waste batteries handled by recycling facilities continues to follow its growing pattern. The results of the survey also bring up some concerns within the industry. One of the challenges in the sector emphasized by the results of the survey, is the fluctuation of the prices of active materials recovered from batteries. Moreover, some sector representatives expect the composition of batteries to continue to change, ultimately influencing the cost of collecting, transporting and recycling materials. Another challenge for the sector could prove to be the legal frameworks across different countries. This relates to the consistency of definitions and objectives between the Battery Directive, the Waste Framework Directive and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive.
Jean-Pol Wiaux, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the ICBR, summarizes the results stating that, “The Battery Recycling Industry is highly motivated to entering a circular economy policy as recommended by European Authorities. Such a motivation is supported by the significant market development of mobile electrical power sources. The impact of recycling on the supply of active materials for batteries may become significant when such a policy is efficiently implemented and when the economic context remains favorable.” He then addresses some of the challenges faced by the battery recycling industry saying, “The success of a transition from a linear approach to a circular economy requires improvements at the level of coherence and harmonization within the European Legislative and Regulatory frameworks impacting the Battery Recycling Industry. The market development of electrical energy sources is a global issue as well as the battery recycling business. Experiences gained in EU could be adapted in many other countries where the implementation of a national legislative framework would create a level playing field between economic actors for the efficient collection and recycling of spent batteries.”