Canada’s Li-Cycle plans EV battery recycling facility in Alabama

Canada’s Li-Cycle plans EV battery recycling facility in Alabama
Mercedes-Benz's Alabama plant, which will begin manufacturing electric vehicles next year, welcomed Canada-based Li-Cycle's plans to build a facility nearby to recycle lithium-ion batteries and battery manufacturing scrap. The facility's recycling capacity will begin at 5,000 tons a year and eventually reach 10,000 tons. (contributed)

Canada-based Li-Cycle Holdings Corp., the leading lithium-ion battery recycler in North America, plans to build a recycling facility near the Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Tuscaloosa County, providing new capabilities within Alabama’s auto industry.

The Tuscaloosa location will become Li-Cycle’s fourth lithium-ion battery recycling facility in North America. The Alabama Spoke is projected to begin operations by mid-2022 and is expected to create more than 30 jobs initially.

“With the popularity of electric vehicles accelerating, it’s critical that old batteries are recycled, and Li-Cycle’s technologies make that possible,” Gov. Kay Ivey said.

“Li-Cycle’s selection of Tuscaloosa for its network of recycling facilities means not only jobs in Alabama, but also a positive for the environment.”

Li-Cycle officials said the Southeast is emerging as a critical region for the lithium-ion battery supply chain, as battery manufacturers and automotive OEMs establish operations in the region, which will lead to the generation of significant quantities of battery manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries available for recycling.

Univar Solutions Inc. will be an anchor battery feed supply customer for the new Alabama facility. The companies previously announced an on-site partnership for Univar to provide waste management solutions for electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

“Our new facility in Alabama positions us well to meet the growing demand for lithium-ion battery recycling,” said Tim Johnston, co-founder and executive chairman of Li-Cycle.

Accelerating growth

Johnston said Li-Cycle’s demand for lithium-ion battery recycling has continued to outperform its forecasts, which now call for a recycling capacity of 30,000 tons per year.

Tim Johnston is co-founder and executive chairman of Li-Cycle. (Li-Cycle)

“This facility is essential in filling a recycling gap in the southeastern United States,” he said.

This project addresses the battery repurposing proposition that must also be a part of the sustainability solution that EVs offer. When completed, Li-Cycle’s Spoke 4 facility will have an initial annual capacity of up to 5,000 tons of battery manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries, bringing Li-Cycle’s total North American recycling capacity to 25,000 tons per year.

The Tuscaloosa site is being developed to accommodate a second 5,000-ton processing line, which would increase capacity to 10,000 tons per year, and Li-Cycle’s total North American recycling capacity to 30,000 tons per year.

Michael Göbel, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. in Tuscaloosa, welcomed Li-Cycle’s Alabama facility. Mercedes, which plans to manufacture EV sport utilities in Alabama beginning in 2022, is working with Univar Solutions on end-of-life solutions for lithium-ion batteries.

“We have a responsibility to not only manufacture vehicles and batteries, but to be good corporate citizens in the choices we make to protect our environment and the community around us,” Göbel said. “We welcome the partnership between Univar Solutions and Li-Cycle, and the strong commitment of our partners here in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to push a sustainable future for mobility.”

A Mercedes-Benz battery pack on display at the company’s Alabama plant when the automaker announced plans in 2017 to build electric vehicles at the facility. (contributed)

New capability

Officials in Alabama see Li-Cycle’s Tuscaloosa EV battery recycling facility as a positive development for the continued growth of the state’s auto industry.

“With EV production set to start in Alabama in 2022, Li-Cycle’s Tuscaloosa recycling facility will ensure that Alabama plays another important role in the life cycle of the batteries powering electric vehicles,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “This project addresses the battery repurposing proposition that must also be a part of the sustainability solution that EVs offer.”

Ron Davis, president of the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association, said Li-Cycle’s decision to locate in Alabama helps position the state on the leading edge as the industry enters the era of electric vehicle production.

“With its innovative technology and process, Li-Cycle is bringing a capability that will offer the auto industry a solution to what will become an issue of critical importance,” Davis said. “I am very excited to see Li-Cycle’s groundbreaking contributions to our growing Alabama automotive industry.”

Danielle Winningham, executive director for the Tuscaloosa County Economic Development Authority, said Li-Cycle selected an ideal location for its new facility.

“With a strategic focus on mobility and power, west Alabama is a prime location for Li-Cycle’s Spoke facility,” Winningham said.

Toronto, Ontario-based Li-Cycle operates Spokes in Kingston, Ontario, and Rochester, New York, with a site in Gilbert, Arizona, in advanced execution stages.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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