By all accounts, e-bikes have a little time: at some point during the pandemic, e-bike sales ahead of all the others by a considerable margin. The lure of easy, socially distant rides can be hard to ignore, but the resulting sales boom has led to a pivotal moment for e-bike makers: what do they do with the batteries once they fail. can no longer run?
For Specialized, the third-largest producer of e-bikes in the United States, the answer came in the form of a partnership with former Tesla co-founder Jeffrey Straubel – or more specifically, his company Redwood Materials. According to a report by The edge, Redwood – which currently recycles batteries for larger electric vehicles – will assess those depleted bike batteries and do two things. First, the company identifies components such as connectors and brackets that could be reused. Then the batteries themselves are processed so that elements such as nickel, cobalt and copper can be extracted and reused in the battery production process.
Regarding the recovery of these batteries in the first place, Specialized said The edge that it plans to collect them from its retail partners and that a pilot program has so far seen all recovered batteries land at the Redwood facility. And perhaps more importantly, all of Redwood’s household bicycle battery recycling takes place in the United States. This to some extent reduces the use of fossil fuels to transport spent cells elsewhere for processing and, more importantly, prevents old batteries from being shipped to developing countries where the people who paid to break them down and recover usable materials benefit very little. safety and environmental protection.
This isn’t the first time – and we hope it won’t be the last – that we’ve heard of e-bike companies considering the long-term sustainability of their products. Lime, a San Francisco-based short-haul company, recently announced a partnership earlier this month that would see some batteries no longer be suitable for use in e-bikes stuck in Bluetooth speakers. Yet when you consider the dozens of e-bike batteries that will run out in the years following this pandemic-fueled sales boom, comprehensive plans to manage them responsibly should be the norm, not the exception.