According to a comprehensive study of Ökoinstitute on behalf of European Commission, appr. 200,000 tons of portable and appr. 50,000 tons of industrial (without Pb) batteries are sold in EU countries. This is equivalent to 450 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.

Since 2015 the “big four” countries GER, UK, FR, IT (in order of size) represent for about 65% of all portable batteries put on market (POM). Also 2/3 of used batteries are collected in these countries – with emphasis of about 25% in GER.

 

Sales of battery chemistries have been reported in Germany 2017 as followed:

Battery chemistry %
Alkaline 56
Zinc Carbon 10
Lithium 3
Other Button Cells <1
Lithium-Ion 21
Nickel-Cadmium 1
Nickel-Metal Hydrid 5
Lead 3

Source: GRS Batterien/CCR Rebat, Yearly Report 2017

These numbers are typically for POM data in EU countries, and it confirms a strong swift from primary batteries to secondary Li-Ion batteries. Nearly every 4th battery is a rechargeable Lithium battery, whereas the old fashioned Nickel-Cadmium accumulator declines since its ban in January 2017. It is expected that the predominance of Li-Ion battery sales will still grow.

Focusing on future orientated Li-ion battery market – an internal study has evaluated multiple sources on battery sales and prognosis. Next figure demonstrates a conservative scenario of Li-Ion battery POM by application. 

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

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

 

Although NCRO’s have improved their performance last years, the figure above shows a low result of Li-ion EOL tonnage collected in EU 28, expected grow until 2020 up to nearly 10.000 tons. Therefore, only a minor part of critical materials contained in Li-Ion batteries (Cobalt, Graphite, Lithium) can be expected to be recycled and integrated as secondary feedstock. This huge gap can only marginally explainable with hoarding effects (end user keeping battery waste in house before discarding). The enormous losses of valuable battery materials are mainly due to losses in municipal household waste, export of EEE and losses in WEEE. Around 90% of Li-Ion batteries are embedded in Electric Appliances, and stay there until end user discards it to a WEEE collection point. Depending on WEEE processing, batteries are not necessarily disassembled from WEEE. Thus, battery materials are dissipative lost in unspecific output fractions – without any sound evaluation of these important industrial and critical materials.

Figure 3:  Schematical flow of batteries in EU (Ökoinstitut/DE/2018)