With the aim of extending the life span of electric bicycle batteries through recycling instead of simply disposing of them in landfills, Specialized, the third largest manufacturer of this type of vehicle in the United States, announced last week, a partnership with Redwood Materials, which already works with other industry giants, such as Nissan and Amazon, and is led by Jeffrey Brian Straubel, co-founder of Tesla.
Such components usually run out over four or six years, explains Chris Yu, the company’s product director, to The Verge, while the units that carry them are built for life. Thus, aiming to contain the continuous generation of toxic waste, the manufacturer sought a specialist in the reuse of such accessories.
In short, after collecting exhausted batteries through its network of retail partners, Specialized will send them to Redwood, which will first analyze what can be reused. Connectors, wires, plastics and more are some of the possibilities. After that, Redwood will remove and refine relevant elements, such as nickel, cobalt and copper. They, in turn, will be reintegrated into new accessories.
Consumers will play a key role in the success of the initiative, adds Yu. Therefore, they will be informed about the most appropriate actions by specialized resellers or by means of notifications sent by the company’s application, which will include the expected expiration date of the devices and information on how to send them to the right places.
130 million electric bicycles are expected to be sold globally between 2020 and 2023, according to a survey by Deloitte, and the success will generate a real “tsunami” of exhausted batteries. The trend, coupled with other movements in the car industry, raises concerns about ecological disasters.
In this sense, Chris Yu argues that Specialized’s action demonstrates the company’s commitment to minimizing “any separate waste streams”, thus facilitating the management of components.
“We have been working [on the recycling project] for some time. It was a way for us to take the lead. People who buy an electric car or, even more, an electric bicycle really care about [the destination of the products]. And we we care deeply about that too, “says Mike Sinyard, the company’s CEO.
Efforts have paid off. According to Specialized, 100% of the collected batteries are being processed at Redwood in strictly domestic and transparent lines of action.
“[The accessories] are highly recyclable with the correct process and method to do this”, highlights the executive. “For me, this is a story of optimism”, he concludes, referring to the growing desire of the population to adhere to vehicles less polluting.