Lyft plans to start recycling batteries for its e-bikes and scooters as part of a recently announced partnership with Redwood Materials, as first reported from The Verge. Elevator owns 12 different municipal bike-sharing programs such as Citi Bike in New York and Bay Wheels in San Francisco, in addition to your program for scooters in four cities.
According to a Bloomberg report, Citi Bike alone, as Lyft’s largest share of ride-hailing, has 5,000 electric bikes. And that’s a lot of batteries. Batteries for electronic bicycles lasts only a few yearsand after that generally just become a part the e-waste pile is growing which threatens to eventually consume us. So it makes sense that the ride-sharing company is looking to do something different.
Redwood Materials was founded in 2017 by former Tesla executive Jeffrey “JB” Strobel. It originally started as a recycler, but has announced its intention to expand into battery materials production in 2021— in an attempt to lead a internal, circular US battery saver. The first manufacturing facility to produce cathode and anode foils is reportedly nearing completion in Nevada, in accordance with MIT Technology Review.
Since its inception, Redwood Materials has grown rapidly and has existing partnerships with Tesla and his waiting for the panasonic battery factory is being built in Kansas as well with Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Amazonand other large companies.
In partnership with Lyft, the company said it would collect its of dead batteries and ship them to the new Redwood plant in Nevada. There, Redwood told the Verge that he will chemically recycle what he can, stripping precious metals like copper and cobalt from discarded batteries to be reintegrated into future batteries — potentially even for cars. “We’re collecting 130 electric bike batteries, and we have enough battery metal to make a new electric vehicle battery,” Jackson Switzer, head of Redwood Materials, told the Verge.
Redwood Materials claims that all of its recycling is done domestically, and if they can turn batteries from dead waste into renewable energy, they will become a leader among US recyclers. But lofty goals aside, it’s worth noting that Redwood Materials has yet to demonstrate how its closed system works. It has yet to create a new cathode and anode material from recycled waste at scale, and it is unclear what percentage of these new materials will be made from old ones. According to MIT Tech Review, the new plant is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.
And, hopefully, the company will fulfill its promise. The current flow of recycling batteries and other e-waste is severely disrupted. So much so that Uber once a dump of a thousand e-bikes because it was “too difficult” to find an alternative solution.
Often, dead batteries are stockpiled and shipped overseas, where they languish cause environmental pollution. However, for environment and for cultivation battery-based technology boom, we desperately need a better system. Without effective and greatly increased recycling, we just not enough materials to meet battery demand (and even that probably won’t be enough.)