The two battery recycling companies here are planning to build new plants in anticipation of a sharp increase in recycling volume as Singapore’s electric vehicle (EV) population grows.
Source: The Straits Times
TES Singapore, which currently processes mainly batteries from mobile devices and computers, said it will build an exclusively designed battery recycling plant for electric vehicle batteries in Singapore. Chief strategy officer John Oh said the new plant will be able to “discharge and dismantle the batteries, and put them through mechanical and chemical recycling processes with state-of-the-art technology”.
TES’ current plant in Tuas recycles about 77.6 tonnes of EV batteries and 76 tonnes of batteries from hybrid vehicles. The total accounts for around 3% of the plant’s annual capacity of 5,000 tonnes. Mr Oh said the new plant will also be able to handle 5,000 tonnes a year. It is slated to start operations in 2025.
Over at Se-cure Waste Management, Managing Director Vince Goh said his company, too, is planning to build a new recycling plant, and is currently “waiting for land from the JTC”, referring to the agency in charge of industrial development.
Se-cure Waste currently processes EV batteries imported from Europe and the United States. Although EVs started becoming mainstream barely 10 years ago, Mr Goh said the early-generation EV batteries were not as robust, and had to be disposed of when they are “three to four years old”.
Unlike TES, its current plant in Jurong West recycles mostly EV batteries, processing up to 3,600 tonnes a year. Batteries from consumer electronic items add up to only 50 to 60 tonnes a year.
“It will be five to eight years more before we start to recycle EV batteries from Singapore,” said Mr Goh, adding that its new plant should be up and running by then. “We’re looking for a plot of around 2.5ha, and we will build a multi-storey facility.”
At the same time, Mr Goh said, he is looking to set up battery recycling plants outside Singapore, in places such as Selangor in Malaysia and Los Angeles in the US. Driven by tax breaks and infrastructural development accelerated from 2020, Singapore’s EV population has grown from just 1,336 in 2019, to 12,144 as at end-June 2023. While the number represents less than 1.3% of Singapore’s total vehicle population, observers reckon this will reach 10 per cent by 2030.
Both battery recycling companies intend to outfit their new plants with facilities to repurpose EV batteries that are still relatively healthy for second-life usage, mainly as stationary power storage for buildings. When asked, the National Environment Agency (NEA) would not comment on plans for additional plants. It merely said that besides the two EV and hybrid vehicle battery recycling plants operated by TES and Se-cure, “a third one is being constructed”.
An NEA spokesman said the two recyclers here are able to “achieve material recovery rates of at least 95%”. This means that if 100kg of used batteries are sent for recycling, at least 95kg of recycled materials are produced.
“The recovered materials are then further treated to recover precious metals such as cobalt, lithium, manganese and nickel,” she added.
Singapore introduced the extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme in 2021, which requires electronic goods producers and retailers to recycle their products when they are disposed of. The NEA spokesman said about 10,000 tonnes of e-waste have been recycled since the scheme started two years ago.
This is a fraction of the estimated 60,000 tonnes of e-waste Singapore produces each year. EV and hybrid vehicle batteries account for just 1% of e-waste recycled under the EPR scheme.
“Since the start of the EPR scheme in July 2021, about 130 tonnes of batteries from these vehicles have been received by the recyclers,” the spokesman added.
NEA, however, is hopeful that the percentage of recycled e-waste will rise. “As more people become familiar with the scheme and dispose of e-waste properly through the various avenues, we expect collection volumes to increase over time,” the spokesman said.
Through its vendor Alba E-Waste Smart Recycling, the agency has increased the number of e-waste collection points, from an initial 300 to more than 700 across Singapore. “Other collection channels, such as retailers’ one-for-one take-back services and recycling collection drives, have been set up,” NEA said.
“NEA is also stepping up outreach and engagement efforts to encourage e-waste recycling and raise public awareness of its importance.”
Toyota authorised agent Borneo Motors, the leading retailer of hybrid cars here with a market share of around 40%, said it has collected more than 250 pieces of batteries from such vehicles since late 2021. According to Land Transport Authority statistics, there are around 81,000 petrol-electric hybrid vehicles (excluding plug-in hybrids) in Singapore today. Assuming that just 5% are deregistered a year, about 4,000 pieces of batteries should be collected per annum.
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