Half of Americans think Li-Ion EV batteries are unrecyclable

Half of Americans think Li-Ion EV batteries are unrecyclable

That said, EV battery recycling isn't quite as easy as dumping them in your household's blue trash can.

A new study commissioned by Ascend Elements found that 47% of Americans surveyed think EV batteries cannot be recycled. More than one-third (37%) of Americans don’t know that recycled lithium-ion battery materials can be used to make new EV batteries.

According to the study, more than half (53%) of Americans say their attitude toward EVs is more positive than it was just three years ago.

  • 46% say EVs will outsell gasoline-powered cars in their lifetime.
  • 59% say EVs are better for the environment than gas-powered cars.
  • 59% say EVs will save them money over the lifetime of the vehicle.

Other notable survey findings include:

  • 40% of U.S. consumers say lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries aren’t really “greener” than internal combustion engines.
  • 50% of U.S. consumers say owning an EV means they’ll need to wait in long lines for charging stations.
  • 53% of U.S. consumers think EVs are more expensive to repair.
  • 47% of U.S. consumers think too many EVs will overwhelm the power grid.
  • 41% of U.S. consumers think electric vehicles are too small and slow compared to gas-powered cars.
  • 51% of U.S. consumers say lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries don’t offer as much range as internal combustion engines.
  • 54% of U.S. consumers are concerned about what we will do with all these lithium-ion EV batteries after they reach the end of life.
  • 48% of U.S. consumers think that EVs will cause toxic landfills full of old lithium-ion batteries.
  • 40% of U.S. consumers say the batteries in electric vehicles are more dangerous than the gasoline in internal combustion engine vehicles.
  • 38% of U.S. consumers think that lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries are sourced using destructive mining techniques.
  • 45% of U.S. consumers think the U.S. isn’t competitive when it comes to manufacturing lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries.

The study was conducted by an independent research firm to survey a random sample of 1,004 U.S. consumers about their beliefs and attitudes regarding battery technology and electric vehicles. The margin of error for this study is +/-3% at the 95% confidence level.

From the Editor: Hot take

Can you recycle EV batteries? Sure. You can fly to the moon if you put your mind to it. The key is making it an easy and inexpensive process, and that tends to be the sticky wicket (both with EV battery recycling and getting to the moon). Many companies looking to recycle Li-Ion batteries don’t have the resources or the funds to properly dispose of their batteries using recycling processes available today (or they simply choose not to).

Adding to recycling difficulties are the batteries themselves, which are obviously not all equal in design or capacity. EV batteries on the market right now use all sorts of different technologies and there’s no engineering standard. Their physical and chemical make-ups are constantly shifting in the name of providing more power in a smaller package.

Lithium, cobalt, manganese, graphite and nickel tend to be most valuable when it comes to recycling Li-Ion batteries, especially when it comes to these minerals’ relationship to human rights and labor conditions in various parts of the world. The good news is that as EV adoption rises, EV battery recycling will also grow as an industry, and more great minds will be dedicated to researching the simplest and most cost-effective way to do it. 

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