Where Are Electric Car Batteries Recycled in California?

Where Are Electric Car Batteries Recycled in California?

Many people wonder whether electric car batteries are recycled as the use of electric vehicles spreads across the nation and sales keep increasing. Recycling of electric car batteries takes place in facilities all throughout the United States and mainly in California. Where are electric car batteries recycled in California?

Electric car batteries are recycled in California at a start-up project based in Signal Hill that invests in repurposing old electric car batteries. The California Energy Commission established a lithium-ion battery recycling advisory group to make sure that all lithium-ion batteries in California are reused or recycled at the end of their useful lives.

The future of EVs will be shaped equally by battery recycling, which will reduce e-waste and the need for hazardous mining techniques to obtain minerals like lithium.

An ex-Tesla exec is launching an electric car battery recycling program in California.

Let’s see where are electric car batteries recycled in California.


Approximate Quantities of Rechargeable Electric Car Batteries Batteries Recycled in California by Year

California no longer permits harmful batteries to dispose of in trash as they contain toxic metals like nickel, cadmium, lead, and mercury. 

If these harmful elements are released into the environment they can cause serious illness to human beings. 

Because of this California came into action and started recycling the harmful batteries. Below is the data for the same.

YearLithium-ion batteries (Li-ion) (Pound)Nickel Cadmium Batteries (Ni-Cd) (pound)Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) (Pound)Small Sealed Lead Acid Batteries (SS Lead Acid)Total (Pound)

A California Clarion Call for Better Battery Recycling Policies

Every year California is adopting new battery vehicles which are eliminating the use of gasoline cars. However, these electric cars run on electric batteries which can be used for up to 20 years, and after the completion of the battery lifecycle that battery will be useless and needs to be disposed of.

CategoryRecommended Policies
Responsibility for battery at the end-of-life Core exchange and vehicle backstop Producer take-back 
Access to battery information Physical labeling requirement Digital identifier Universal diagnostic system 
Support repurposing, reuse, and recycling industry development Recycling incentive packages DTSC permit timeline Expand eligibility for battery storage systems 
Safe and efficient reverse logistics Support enforcement of unlicensed dismantling laws develop training materials Support transportation research Develop strategic collection and sorting infrastructure Universal waste regulations Require pre-approval to bid on EVs at auctions 
Recommended policies for recycling electric car batteries in California

If these electric car batteries are not disposed of properly they may cause serious environmental pollution.

So, to eliminate the hazardous impact of retired electric car batteries California has come up with a plan of setting up a recycling power plant. 

The only challenge is that a huge amount of land is needed to set up the plant and you also need highly skilled professionals to execute the process. 

The report has been given to the legislature in order to advise them on the policies that would enable California to recycle EV batteries entirely. When they reconvene in January 2023, it is still unclear what will happen after that.

UCS wants to see laws established in California that not only make it mandatory to recycle these batteries, but also improve the material's circularity and battery sustainability.

How is California Doing with Recycling Rechargeable Batteries?

After the first life of an electric car battery, it can be easily repurposed, refurbished, and reused.

If the car battery is not damaged during its use in electric cars, then they have an additional usable capacity, i.e., an estimated 80% of the original rated capacity. 

So, if the car battery was manufactured to store 100kWh, at the end of its lifespan, it can store up to 80kWh. 

To make use of old batteries can be broken down to salvage small components for refurbishment and reuse or can be easily repurposed and used in less demanding applications like stationary storage.

For stationary storage, companies like B2U storage solutions are repurposing car batteries which can be used for renewable energy generation support. 

They are used to connect various car batteries along with the battery cooling and monitoring technology for creating a larger battery which is the size of the shipping container. 

These batteries are used to store solar electricity, which is generated during the day and provides electricity at high-demand times, i.e., in the evening.

As the grid becomes cleaner, added grid storage becomes essential for supporting the generation variability of renewable energy.

The used batteries are best to extend the lifespan of a product that has already been manufactured and support the transition to renewable energy. After the second life usage, the car batteries can be recycled.

Will All-Electric Car Batteries be Recycled at the End of Their Working Life?

After reaching the end of their life, all-electric car batteries will be recycled. In the United States, when the warranty of batteries has expired, many electric car battery providers can easily reuse the batteries for the second or third time.

Car batteries are very reliable and long-lived, and the active car battery recycling market is in its infancy. 

However, we can see enormous growth in recycling technology in the future. 

It usually makes neither environmental nor conventional sense to dump electric car batteries in landfills. It will not happen.

Can Recycled Materials Be Used to Manufacture New Batteries?

Once all the materials are recovered, they can be easily used to manufacture new lithium–ion car batteries.

It is preferable to use virgin ore as it reduces the amount of mining needed to manufacture lithium-ion batteries.

We must develop a closed-loop supply chain that recycles and re-manufactures old batteries into new with high efficiency. This is critical to enable both the state of California and broader U.S. electrification goals

CTO J.B. Straubel

California is expecting to have 100% electric cars by 2035. So, recycling electric car batteries and reusing the material within them is a crucial step in transforming into a cleaner transportation system.

Considering Requirements When Electric Car Batteries Recycled in California

California is a leader in adopting maximum electric cars as the government orders 1.5 million electric cars on the roads of California by 2025.  Batteries from these vehicles need to be recycled as they can cause serious environmental issues. 

Generally, electric batteries do not release carbon dioxide; however, dismantling these batteries will result in some environmental impact. 

These batteries generally weigh thousands of pounds and are sensitive. Cutting too deep or into the wrong place can release toxic fumes or battery combustion. 

The difficulty in disposing of these batteries represents a significant clash between the state's major ambition to have a carbon-free environment. 

Breaking and disposing of the batteries is a very toxic process; if they are left unattended, they are susceptible to fire. 

Getting Electric Batteries on the Road, But No Way to Recycle

Old batteries are stockpiled for resale or shipped out of state or country where the recycling of batteries happens. 

Recycling electric car batteries need colossal land and will generate some toxic waste. In addition, the overall process takes lots of hard work to do.

Disposing of Batteries in California

If you reside in California, you should strictly adhere to the law for disposing of electric batteries, as the state considers electric batteries hazardous. Putting used car batteries in trans is against the law. 

You should take old car batteries to the authorized recycling center or a universal waste handler. Or you can take it directly to the household hazardous waste disposal facility.

If you know how to dispose of car batteries, you can help the environment. Dropoff locations usually accept batteries for recycling.

Recycling Car Batteries is the Key to Making Them, Greener

Electric car batteries currently represent around half of lithium–ion batteries being recycled and include consumer electronics and waste from the manufacturing of batteries.

With more than 3.8 million electric batteries on the road, the number of electric batteries retiring in upcoming years will increase as they eventually age or total out of the fleet.

Its increase will also increase the result in car batteries comprising a slightly higher percentage of recycling stream where battery retirements are expected to be around six to seven times higher in the year 2025 compared to 2020 and 20 to 40 times higher in the year 2030. 

Companies who are taking initiatives to recycle these batteries are setting themselves to accommodate the upcoming wave simply by expanding their capacity.

These car battery recycling companies are securing battery streaming by partnering with automobile manufacturers. 

California is Considering Electric Car Battery Recycling Requirements

Lots are happening in the industry for recycling electric car batteries. California has passed a bill that indicates that recycling is a priority for the state.

Assembly bill 2832 was passed in 2018, making the California battery recycling advisory group. 

The group comprises public interest groups, government agency representatives, and battery & automotive manufacturers.

The recently recommended policy to the legislature, which could increase the recycling of electric car batteries, can include the creation of California state requirements that car batteries can be recycled, and auto manufacturers will be responsible for this. 

But first, they need to make sure that battery recycling is happening. Along with this, the federal government of California is also paying attention to the same issue. 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure bill allocates funds towards electric car battery recycling and development work. 

It is in addition to the funding of the ReCell Center, which was created by the department of energy and is focused on decreasing costs and enhancing recycling yields.  

Are Tesla Batteries Recyclable?

The battery material is refined and put into a cell that will remain inside the cell at the end of its life. After that, it can be recovered and can be recycled for reuse over and over again.

Unlike fossil fuels that release harmful emissions into the environment that are not recovered for reuse, the material in Tesla's lithium–ion battery is easily recoverable and recyclable. 

In addition to it, extending the life of a battery is a superior option for recycling for both business and environmental reasons.

For these reasons, before decommissioning a consumer battery and shipping it for recycling, Tesla manufacturers do everything they can to extend the life of every battery pack.

The battery, which is no longer meeting the needs of the customer, can be serviced by Tesla at their service centers. 

None of the scrapped lithium–ion batteries go into the landfill, and 100% are recycled.

However, you should keep in mind that the professionals only handle the lithium–ion battery in electric cars and only at specifically designated premises. Also, the set rules and regulations should be followed to keep safety.

Can Lithium Batteries Be 100% Recyclable?

Used lithium–ion batteries have been a significant problem over the decades. Battery technology has changed a lot, and the most advanced rechargeable battery may contain hazardous materials that should be taken care of.

Yes, lithium–ion car batteries are recyclable; however, the process of recycling is somewhat complicated.

It is not only dangerous for environmental pollution. For example, any retired electric car battery disposed of poorly or handled incorrectly can increase the risk of poisoning or fire.

So, disposing of a large number of lithium–ion car batteries is going to be a real challenge, and recycling them properly is the only solution.

This could be a reason that you might be struggling to find a proper recycling center to process this kind of waste.

The major challenge of recycling lithium-ion batteries is that you cannot handle the car batteries like any other electronic waste, as lithium is a highly reactive element.

In simple terms, dumping an electric car's lithium battery in a load of paper recycling will not be the smartest thing to do. 

Also, increased heat or any electric discharge can also cause the power cell to burst into flames. These cases are rare but may happen, so you must be very careful.

If it is done correctly, stockpiling these batteries is considered unsafe and is also riskier for the environment. 

Unlike other materials lithium–ion car batteries cannot be used directly, so recycling them properly is the only solution.

Along with this, lithium car battery recycling reduces the need for brand-new mineral extraction, which is always a win-win condition for environmental safety.

How is the Recycling of Electric Car Batteries Done?

Initially, the qualified technicians disassemble electric car batteries into modules. 

These highly trained high-voltage professionals use insulated tools to avoid electrocution or any short-circuiting of the battery pack.

Short-circuiting the electric car battery is no picnic, as it can result in rapid discharge. 

If overheated, it can generate toxic by-products of gases that can result in an explosion of the battery cell, which will release carcinogenic electrolyte additives into the environment. It will be very hazardous to the environment.

However, after taking them apart safely, trained professionals assess which cells have enough health and analyze if they can be reused in any other application; if not, they consider it for recycling.

The most crucial point here is that you need to locate a qualified e–waste recycler who can easily handle or recycle lithium–ion electric car batteries responsibly and safely.

Old status of California for Recycling Electric Car Batteries.

  1. California has no recycling plants for the massive batteries.
  1. California needs to plan out how it will recycle all of its electric car’s lithium-ion batteries.
  1. California Has No Idea What It's Going To Do With Millions Of Old EV Batteries.
  1. California’s government doesn’t yet have a plan in place to manage battery recycling or reuse.

California is Testing Reuse Systems to Head Off an Anticipated Flood of Retired electric car batteries

Testing Reuse Systems for an Anticipated Flood of Retired electric car batteries

There are some great solutions for old electric car batteries

  1. Return and exchange

Old electric batteries can be returned to the recycling stations and can be replaced with new ones.

  1. Storage and maintenance

For storing new and unused batteries, it is necessary to ensure the integrity of new products, which can be done by optimal climate control with routine battery refreshes when necessary.

How to Dispose of Batteries in California

Electric car batteries are considered hazardous because of the corrosive and toxic material they contain. Generally, they are a valuable source and can be easily recycled.

All the electric car batteries in California should be taken to an authorized recycling facility or Household hazardous waste disposal facility or to a universal waste handler. 

Why are Recycling Centers Closing in California?

Global commodity cost majorly explains the current woes of recycling centers in California. 

The plummeting scrap cost of recyclable materials has hit the bottom line and the number of statewide centers has also reduced from 2,100 to 1,800.

Importance of Recycling Electric Car Battery

More than 400,000 zero-emission cars run on California roads, and the counting is still on. The battery life span in these cars is around 10 to 20 years.

Every battery contains corrosive materials, metals, and toxic elements. These electric car batteries are also valuable as a source of recyclable elements.

When the life of these batteries ends, they need to be managed in a way that is safe for the environment and the public.   

How Long Does an Electric Car Battery Last?

Usually, the electric car battery pack can retain its capacity from 100,000 to 200,000 miles. This is because battery manufacturers are so confident that most electric car batteries come with an extended warranty of 100,000 miles or eight years.

Graeme Cooper, the National Grid's Transport Decarbonisation Director, says that the ‘car’s electric battery will outlive the car.’ 

Nowadays, many electric car batteries have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years and another second life. 

It is also worth noticing that the technology of electric car batteries is still evolving, and you can expect that the lifespan of an electric car’s battery will increase in the future. It will also become smaller, cheaper, and lighter.

What happens to electric car batteries When They No Longer Power Cars Quickly and Reliably?

Once the electric car battery starts losing its capacity to fuel the car, it still has some value in it. However, when the battery’s performance drops to 70% or less, another life comes into action.

The second life of an electric car battery begins after 100,000 to 200,000 miles on the road. 

They still have some residual life in the battery, and you can hang them in the cupboard under the stairs or in the garage as a source of a static battery energy storage system. 

Make sure to connect it to a solar panel to generate a renewable energy source.

It means with an old electric car battery that cannot be used in a car; you can save on your electricity bills and enhance the use of clean energy.

The Green Cycle for Electric Car Batteries

Apart from storing energy in your workplace and home, electric batteries can be used on a larger scale at power manufacturing plants and streets. 

In a worthy energy cycle, factories that produce batteries can be powered with the help of repurposed batteries. 

Manufacturers of electric cars are also making a big investment to give car batteries a new life in a large-scale battery storage system.  

Toyota is going to install already-used car batteries outside convenience stores in Japan.

Nissan is also using perused batteries to provide backup power for the Amsterdam arena, i.e., the entertainment center and the home to the famous Ajax Football Club.

These old batteries will be used to store the power generated from solar panels. 

The stored energy can be used to support the power of drink fridges, fresh food counters inside stores, and food warmers. 

Renault has also declared that the used electric batteries from Renault Zoe will be reused to generate power for Powervault, i.e., a home energy battery storage system.

Nissan has also launched the XStorage with the help of Nissan Leaf car batteries as the storage system for businesses and homes.

What is Valuable in a Car’s Battery?

Lithium–ion car batteries contain various valuable materials worth recovering and saving from dangerous landfills. 

Before recycling the car battery, it is disassembled and shredded with the help of large machinery, which helps to break it into small pieces.

Once the shredding is completed, the battery's materials are shifted and separated depending on their size, which divides them into three categories, i.e., non–ferrous materials (black mass), ferrous materials, and plastics.

Non–ferrous materials consist of hazardous materials like manganese, nickel, lithium, cobalt, and other material, which can individually be recovered with the help of a hydrometallurgical process.

The process of hydrometallurgical recycling starts with leaching to make a solvent that contains the critical materials.

After that, every individual material is recovered with the help of purification, precipitation, and solvent extraction. 

This process is popular in the metal industry, and many California-based lithium–ion recycling companies also use this method to recycle the electric car battery.

Impact of Throwing Away Electric Car Battery

It is not recommended to throw away lithium–ion batteries in your regular trash. Doing so can cause serious environmental pollution issues. 

You can’t even throw it in your blue recycle bin as heavy metals contain environmental hazards. 

Even in very small quantities, Lithium–ion batteries contain metals that are highly damaging. When they are landfilled, they may leak and contaminate the environment with nickel, manganese, and cobalt, along with hazardous lithium plastic and salts.

Electric car batteries can also catch fire which can burn slowly for a longer duration and contaminate surroundings with toxic chemicals.

Also, underground fire is difficult to detect and can result in significant voids in the landfill. 

In addition, it can cause the landfill surface to cave in, burying highly flammable electrolytes even deep in the ground.

But an alarming issue is that more than 95% of lithium–ion car batteries find their way into landfills, resulting in serious environmental problems.

All this makes little sense when we know that more than 90% of nickel and cobalt can be easily removed from these batteries.

However, thankfully, lithium–ion electric car battery technology is replacing cobalt with much safer and nontoxic material, i.e., phosphate or manganese oxide.  

Also, there are many ongoing projects in California where these batteries are now recycled, reused, and refurbished so that any pollution can be controlled.

How can Retired Electric Car Batteries be Dangerous for Humans?

Retired car batteries are highly dangerous for the environment and should be disposed of properly so that they do not cause any environmental pollution. 

Before going to the landfill, lithium–ion batteries can be dangerous as damaged batteries can release fine particles with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 10 or 2.5 μm, i.e., PM 10 and PM 2.5.

The issue is that these particles contain metals like lead, copper, cobalt chromium, cadmium, and arsenic which are very dangerous for human health.

If they enter the respiratory system of the human being, they can cause various health issues like respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, endocrine system imbalance, and carcinogenicity.

It also releases hydrofluoric acid, which is also a hazardous gas that can leak from used electric car batteries. The car is highly corrosive and can enter the human body by inhaling or skin. 

It can easily penetrate the skin and settle in deep layers where it can release toxic components.

A Final Note for Retired Electric Car Batteries

Not taking apart lithium–ion electric car batteries all by yourself is recommended. Always consider a professional to do the job. 

If anything goes wrong, it can result in severe issues to health and environmental damage. 

Just make an appointment with professionals, and they will handle the rest.


An electric car’s battery end-of-life is very important for ensuring that the batteries are safely disposed of, and the material can be recovered and used again in manufacturing new batteries. 

However, a lot is going on to push forward the uptake of electric cars and replace gasoline cars for a good reason. Many people are also working to ensure that electric car batteries are being recycled, repurposed, and reused.


Who will be responsible for recycling old electric car batteries?

Manufacturers of electric cars will be purely responsible that retired electric car batteries should be recycled, repurposed or reused properly. They also make sure that the battery does not cause any environmental pollution. 

How much are old electric car batteries worth?

Normally old car batteries are worth between $5 to $12 (depending on the type and size of the battery).

What does California do with old electric car batteries?

When electric car batteries reach the end of their life i.e. after a time span of 8 to 10 years then many batteries can be easily reused to store solar energy. Some can also be used to extract useful elements like cobalt manganese etc.

What do I do with old electric car batteries in California?

Old car batteries are a major source of recyclable metal. All electric car batteries in California should be taken to an authorized recycling facility, a universal waste handler, or a household hazardous waste disposal facility.

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Bharat Suthar

I am principal creator of electriccarexperience.com. I like riding Electric Car, UTV in mountains and Terrain, Also I try to share all the real life experience here in the site.I am really dedicated to write about my experience. I love doing all the outdoor activity including riding electric car, dirt biking and hiking.

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