Recycling of lithium-ion batteries in India- $1,000 million opportunity

The lithium-ion batteries market is expected to grow exponentially in the next five years in India. Some of the important initiatives by the Government of India that will accelerate the growth of lithium-ion batteries market in India are:

As per JMK Research estimates, the lithium-ion battery market in India is expected to increase from 2.9 GWh in 2018 to about 132 GWh by 2030 (CAGR of 35.5%). The increasing volume of lithium-ion batteries would, in turn, lead to a growing capacity of ‘spent’ batteries in our ecosystem which if left untreated would lead to health and environmental hazards. Also, the precious metals comprising these batteries would be lost forever. Therefore, managing this lithium-ion battery waste through recycling is a necessity.

As per JMK research estimates, the recycling market in India would start picking up from the year 2022 onwards when lithium-ion batteries which are presently in use in electric vehicles would reach their end of life. In the year 2030, the recycling market is estimated to be around 22 – 23 GWh, which is a $1,000 million opportunity.

Many Indian companies have already started looking at this lucrative opportunity and have either already established or announced plans to set up recycling operations. Some of them include:

  • In August 2019, Tata Chemicals launched its lithium-ion battery recycling operations in Mumbai.
  • Raasi Solar has announced plans to set up a 300 MW plant focussing on lithium battery recycling along with battery assembling and cell manufacturing.
  • Mahindra Electric also has expressed that it plans to enable EV battery recycling, in a method similar to the recycling of cell phone batteries, with the help of a supply partner.

Although there is awareness around the recyclability and reusability of batteries, this market would pick momentum only when the Indian government brings in a well-defined regulatory and policy framework. To date, India does not have any specific regulations or guidelines around the effective disposal and recycling of lithium-ion batteries. Even India’s e-waste guidelines have no mention of lithium-ion batteries. Clear guidelines have to be laid out for collection, storage, transportation and recycle of waste batteries. Detailed instructions for both consumers and battery suppliers also have to be laid out and implemented.

[1]National Mobility Mission

[2]Ministry of New and Renewable Source of Energy