NABATE: International Workshop on sustainable management of end-of-life batteries

International Workshop " Sustainable battery system cuts raw material use, lowers environmental, health risks from toxic batteries"

- Europe/Berlin

Through this project, UNU-FLORES and K-eco expects to promote an eco-friendly transition to e-mobility through the formation of an internationally harmonized waste battery resource circulation system that reduces raw material consumption and environmental and public health risks from toxic battery compounds in Germany and South Korea. Through the workshop, the implications of the research results of this project are shared with partners and Korean experts, and meaningful discussions are held for the development of waste battery resource circulation between Germany and South Korea.

  • Analysis of status and future trend in end-of-life (EOL) electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries in Korea and Germany
  • Contribute to the establishment of sustainable and integrated EOL EV battery recycling strategies for South Korea, based on experiences from Germany and the EU.
  • Analysis of the current state of EOL battery systems in Germany and upcoming EU (European Union) regulations.
  • Promote the formation of an internationally harmonized waste battery resource circulation system through the establishment of partnerships with project-related companies and institutions.
  • Analysis of German and European technology, quality assurance and acceptance trends for battery repurposing and recycling
  • Integrating and analyzing the implications of the deliverables of this project to deliver recommendations for the formation of a waste battery resource circulation system in Korea

Background – Purpose

Science knowledge management, networking, partnership, capacity development
South Korea and Germany are among the world’s leading producers of vehicles (3.46 and 3.31 million produced vehicles in 2021; OICA 2021), and both are characterized by significant domestic car markets as well as a strong export orientation (Eurostat 2022). Both countries have defined strategies to phase out internal combustion engines, completely replacing them by electric vehicles by 2035 (Yonhap News 2022; ADAC 2023). This transition will result in a constant increase in electric vehicle (EV) fleets, and in a medium-term perspective, a strong increase in the amounts of end-of-life (EOL) batteries. Germany and Korea have combined domestic car sales of approx. 5 million passenger vehicles per year. Assuming an average battery life of 8 to 10 years, in the 2030s, the two countries will have hundreds of thousands (and later over a million) EOL EV batteries annually. Even though both countries are important exporters of used vehicles, South Korea and Germany will need to establish significant capacities for battery recycling and disposal (and potentially, for reuse of batteries).

In South Korea, K-Eco in cooperation with private companies has set up a scheme for the collection, re-purposing, and recycling of EOL batteries from electric vehicles, and the country can be considered a pioneer in this field (e.g., KEI 2017). In Germany, several battery recycling plants have recently started operation, or are in preparation, with a wide range of operators (Battery News 2023). At the same time, citizens’ initiatives in several locations oppose the planned recycling plants, fearing negative impacts on the local environment. This explicitly includes the recycling plant that was planned by SungEel HiTech in Rudolstadt, Thuringia which has been brought to a complete halt by local protests (MDR 2023). At the same time, increased battery recycling capacities are strongly needed. While citizens’ concerns should be taken seriously, some are unfounded fears and communication strategies should therefore address the need and benefits of battery recycling as well as high safety and environmental standards.