According to a comprehensive study of Ökoinstitute on behalf of European Commission, appr. 250,000 tons of portable and industrial (without Pb) batteries were sold in EU countries. This is equivalent to 420 gr per inhabitants, which has been a stable average since 2010. On the contrary, the number of batteries has slightly grown from 18 to 20 per person and year, which reflects the increase of rechargeable batteries with higher performance and lower weight per piece.

In 2015 the “big four” countries GER, UK, FR, IT (in order of size) represent 63% of all portable batteries put on market (POM). Also 63% of used batteries have been collected in these countries – with emphasis of 22% in GER.

 

Sales of battery chemistries have been subdivided in 2015 into following shares:

Battery chemistry %
Alkaline 52
Zinc Carbon 12
Lithium 2
Silver Oxide <1
Zinc Air <1
Lithium-Ion 19
Nickel-Cadmium 5
Nickel-Metal Hydrid 7
Lead 3

Taking German 2016 data into account, it confirms a strong swift from primary batteries to secondary Li-Ion batteries, reflecting also the decline of old fashioned NiCd accumulator type, whose sale is forbidden since January 2017. This will even foster the predominance of Li-Ion battery sales.

Battery chemistry* %
Alkaline 64
Zinc Carbon 4,9
Lithium 2,8
Silver Oxide 0,2
Zinc Air 0,5
Lithium Ion 19,6
Nickel Cadmium 0,8
Nickel-Metal Hydrid 4,7
Lead 2,5

Source: GRS Batterien, Yearly Report 2016

According EUROSTAT, 84,000 tons have been collected in 2016 – having the obligation to meet the mandatory 45% collection rate (CR). Following table of CR in all EU countries show that only 14 members had catched up to the legal requirement of a minimum of 45% CR in 2016. Some data delivered have been even difficult to explain. 

Figure A: CR in European countries

Focusing on Accurec’s future orientated activities: Li-ion battery recycling – an internal study has evaluated multiple sources of battery sales and prognosis. Next figure demonstrates a conservative scenario of Li-Ion battery POM by application. Although NCRO’s has improved their performance last years, following figure shows a low result of Li-ion EOL tonnage collected in EU 28, expected to be done until 2020 (by chemistry).

Figure B: Li-Ion Battery POM in EU 28 by application

Figure C: Collection of Li-Ion batteries in EU 28 by chemistry

Only a minor part of critical materials contained in Li-Ion batteries can be expected to be recycled and integrated as secondary feedstock. This is not primarily due to hoarding effects (end user keeping battery waste in house before discarding), but mostly explainable by typical use of electronic applications. 89% of Li-Ion batteries (see table below) are embedded in WEEE, and stay there until end user discards it to a WEEE collection points. Depending on the way recyclers pretreat and process WEEE, batteries are not necessarily disassembled in advance. Thus, battery materials are dissipative lost in unspecific output fractions – without any sound evaluation of these industrial and critical battery materials.

Battery chemistry Embedded in WEEE%
Alkaline 37
Zinc Carbon 50
Lithium primary 78
Silver Oxide 65
Zinc Air 22
Lithium-Ion 89
Nickel-Cadmium 99
Nickel-Metal Hydrid 55
Lead 34

Table 3: Share of battery chemistry embedded in WEEE