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Summary
  • Don’t discard used electric car batteries in the trash or landfills. Instead, it’s best to give them to an auto recycler for proper disposal.
  • Experts can extract any remaining precious materials from old batteries, like cobalt, lithium, nickel, and manganese.
  • Recycling car batteries keeps them out of landfills, is good for the environment, and helps cut costs in battery production.

After an electric car battery runs out of juice for the final time, you must get a replacement. But what should you do with the old one?

It’s not like you can throw something as big and heavy as an electric car battery in the trash, and dropping it off in a landfill is bad for the environment. Fortunately, there are ways to dispose of used electric car batteries causing pollution.

How to Dispose of Electric Car Batteries Properly

If you want to conduct electric car battery disposal without polluting the environment, bring your used electric battery to an auto recycler or any other place that accepts them. If you’re having a hard time finding one in your area, consult your local council or do some research online.

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Depending on where you’re taking it, you’ll need to drain the battery first or charge it to full before dropping it off.

Why Can’t You Toss Old Electric Car Batteries in a Landfill?

Old electric batteries are full of toxic components like lead and acid that can poison the ground and water. These chemicals can contaminate the surrounding terrain.

Plus, throwing car batteries away instead of bringing them to an auto recycler is illegal.

Recycling Electric Car Batteries: Is It Possible?

Yes, it’s possible to recycle an old electric car battery. Experts can dismantle it and extract its remaining precious materials for other uses. They can also repurpose some of the battery’s parts.

recycling electric car battery
Experts can dismantle it and extract its remaining precious materials for other uses.

What Electric Car Battery Materials Can Be Extracted?

Car batteries have cobalt, lithium, nickel, and manganese. Experts extract and reuse them for various applications.

Cobalt

Cobalt provides high thermal stability to electric car batteries. One problem many metals have is how they absorb and retain heat too well, making them prone to overheating. Cobalt doesn’t have that problem.

Another reason why car batteries have cobalt is its high energy density. The higher a metal’s energy density, the greater its ability to stockpile and transfer energy. This is an essential property for batteries because they need to store and retain electricity while being able to release it safely.

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Lithium

Like cobalt, lithium can be found in car batteries because of its high energy density. However, unlike most metals, it’s lightweight and has a low density. It’s also an excellent option as an anode material in batteries.

In short, lithium helps car batteries store a lot of power without adding much weight to the vehicle.

Lithium-ion is used in car batteries because of its rechargeability. Electric vehicles are built to last, which means their batteries must be rechargeable.

Nickel

When it comes to nickel, one of its greatest strengths is its corrosion resistance. This makes it the perfect choice for improving the overall longevity of a car battery. When car batteries are disassembled, nickel can be extracted and reused to create other batteries.

Nickel is also extracted because it can increase the overall storage capacity of a battery thanks to its high energy density. It’s also relatively cheap, making it a common component.

Manganese

Manganese stabilizes and increases the energy density of electric car batteries. As a result, it improves the vehicle’s overall driving range and reduces the risk of the battery overheating and combusting.

Manganese also has uses outside of car batteries. Because it’s used to stabilize battery-powered machinery, it affects both a battery’s ability to recharge as well as a battery’s overall longevity. It’s why it’s one of the most important materials you can extract from a used car battery.

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Why Recycle Electric Car Batteries?

Here are some of the reasons why it’s better to recycle electric car batteries instead of discarding them.

Batteries Can’t Help Anyone in Landfills

It’d be a waste of perfectly good materials and parts to leave a car battery in a landfill. If it’s recycled, experts can reuse and repurpose its parts. Depending on its state, it can even be used to create a new electric battery.

Beneficial for the Environment

Chemicals and toxic materials from old car batteries can seep into the earth and the water, contaminating the environment and killing ecosystems. In short, it’s in everyone’s best interests to recycle car batteries.

Easier and Cheaper to Make New Electric Cars

Electric car batteries are made up of many materials, and not all of them are cheap. By recycling used materials from old car batteries, such as cobalt, lithium, nickel, or manganese, manufacturers can cut costs.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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