Study proposes battery recycling hub in BC lower Columbia region

A new report by the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation (LCIC), an economic development agency, is recommending development of the area as a battery recycling hub.

LCIC’s newly released “Metal Tech Alley Battery Hub Feasibility Study” examines the area’s existing entities and recommends ways to further develop an industrial cluster primed for battery recycling. It focuses on three recommendations: exploring niche battery manufacturing, particularly where the handling of heavy metals and plastics can be easily combined; establishing a research laboratory to leverage regional metallurgical strengths and cater to emerging national recycling priorities; and determining the feasibility of circular economy principles within the existing battery manufacturing process.

“We have clean power, and we have lots of water available, and we’re on our way to establishing a battery hub,” says Jacomien van Tonder, director of Metal Tech Alley, a subsidiary of the LCIC and global leader in the industrial circular economy.

“We’re telling the world: we’re open for business, and we believe the circular economy movement can make environmental protection profitable.”

The region is already home to Teck Trail Operations and established battery recycling facilities and processing plants KC Recycling and Cirba Solutions.

First-generation electric vehicle (EV) batteries are expected to near the end of their life cycle by the mid-to-late 2020s, approximately 10 years after the first wave of mass-produced EVs hit the market. Demand for battery recycling facilities will only increase in the future, according to van Tonder.

“We want to expand on the battery recycling we already have going on and bring new developments,” van Tonder said.

“If you look at the electric vehicle targets from the BC and federal governments, a lot of batteries will need to be recycled in the next five to 10 years. Every EV has both lead and lithium-ion batteries. We have capacity for both types, so we’re trying to prepare for that influx now.”

The report, funded by the provincial government, will underpin a business plan to attract battery recycling companies to the Lower Columbia. Although it also highlights challenges such as competing against denser population centres, the need to strengthen supply chains, and socio-economic factors such as the universal housing crisis and regulatory complexities, LCIC sees this as constructive feedback to help them develop the battery hub.