This year’s International Congress for Battery Recycling ICBR 2018 will take place from 26 to 28 September in Berlin. LEVA-EU is a partner of this Congress. On Thursday 27 September at 3.30 p.m., LEVA-EU Manager Annick Roetynck will be speaking about the potential of light electric vehicles in the framework of EU Policies.
In preparation of the Congress, the organizers have had an extended interview with Jean-Pol Wiaux, Chairman of the ICBR Steering Committee.
▪ Mr Wiaux, the next International Congress for Battery Recycling (ICBR) will be held in Berlin in just over three months. Can you give us an update of the program?
This 23rd edition of the ICBR has raised interest among many new actors in the field of battery recycling. Proposals for papers reflect the battery industry’s diversification and growth. Recycling has become an inevitable part of the discussion between the parties concerned as EU environmental and economic policy moves towards a circular economy.
I am convinced that the congress program as recently finalized will offer a great basis for discussions after formal presentations and during panel discussions, plant tours and workshops.
▪ What highlights can attendees look forward to this year?
Three renowned keynote speakers specialized in very different fields will open the congress:
➢ Professor Kerstin Kuchta (Hamburg University of Technology) will address the role of batteries in a circular economy
➢ Didier Marginèdes, Director of Blue Solutions, will review how car manufacturers are anticipating new market demand with the development of electric mobility
➢ Gudula Schwan from the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure will talk on the importance of controlling hazards and risks when transporting batteries for recycling
In addition, we have the unique opportunity to propose a session on chemicals policy, an important issue for the battery recycling industry, with speakers from the European Chemicals Agency (EChA) and the European Association of Metals (EUROMETAUX).
▪ What will the main topics of this year’s congress be?
The EU battery recycling industry is under pressure from the EU Environment Authority, but also from OEMs. The recently launched European Battery Alliance, the political move towards a circular economy, the review of the EU Batteries Directive, innovative battery recycling technologies and, last but not least, safety issues are on the congress’s agenda.
Furthermore, specialists from the metal trading industry will deliver key messages on the evolution of active materials pricing and the potential impact of recycling on raw materials economics.
During their international sessions, ICBR congresses are the only ones to provide a platform on battery recycling to speakers from all around the world.
▪ The development of electric mobility and digitization is inconceivable without batteries. To what extent has recycling already reached the battery industry?
The battery recycling industry has operated in Europe for more than 50 years. During the last twenty years it has adapted to many technological cycles, including lead-acid and primary alkaline battery recycling, but also nickel-cadmium and nickel metal hydride processing as well as more recently dealing with lithium primary and lithium-ion rechargeable types.
Moving from a linear to a circular economy is a big push for recyclers. However, they need to operate on a globally competitive technical and business basis. In particular, there is a need for the EU Authority to clarify the “equivalent performances” concept and its enforcement when calculating recycling efficiency.
But battery recyclers are not operating alone. The important role of OEMs is also under scrutiny, as they need to integrate both the technical and the economical aspects of battery recycling in their commercial policy.
▪ Given the booming demand for batteries, recyclers should have no reason to complain about their business, should they?
The battery recycling business is impacted by conflicting parameters. The return rate of end-of-life batteries is much lower than the market penetration rate. The active materials content of batteries is continually developing as the race for
performance and safety continues: The chemistry of lithium rechargeable batteries is not fixed and new, active materials are offered regularly by industry.
Let’s not forget that a significant number of advanced batteries are processed without the costs being fully balanced by the value of the recovered materials.
Factors such as re-use and second life may also impact the volume of returned batteries. Innovative business models offered by OEMs to control the flow of batteries at the end-of-life stage and secure access to raw materials and stable battery pricing are necessary.
Last year, industry barometer initiative results showed an optimistic trend in the battery recycling business arena. This year we will again present to participants our battery recycling industry barometer. The results will be interesting.
▪ Will there be a supporting program apart from the actual congress this year?
Traditionally, the ICBR presents an ideal opportunity to meet with the industry. Two plant tours have been organized, thanks to the industrial partners who responded positively to ICM’s request.
Nickelhütte Aue GmbH specializes in recycling nickel-based materials and other non-ferrous metals. It has also gathered seven years of experience in recycling lithium-ion batteries.
Electrocycling GmbH, Goslar offers technologies for recycling electronic devices, of which 80% of the processed materials are re-introduced into the economy and only 2% are disposed of in an environmentally compatible manner.
A workshop will also concentrate on the practical aspects of lithium batteries in terms of hazards and safety. Do not miss this workshop if you are new to the field or if you want to learn more about good practices guidance for handling, storing and transporting lithium batteries.
▪ It is a good tradition that all participants are invited to a networking dinner in a special location at the end of the first congress day. What can the guests look forward to this year?
If you want to catch the spirit of the ICBR, don’t miss the famous networking dinner where entertainment meets business partners. This year, we shall gather all the participants at the well-known Berlin entertainment location “Bar jeder Vernunft”, where it will again be a memorable evening accompanied by surprise show acts.
So, don’t miss this opportunity to exchange news, views and ideas with experts from all areas of the battery recycling sector. We look forward to welcoming you at this year’s industry meeting! For all the details on the program and how to register, go to: https://www.icm.ch/icbr-2018 .