Specialized is looking to offer recycling for all of its e-bike batteries by the end of the year thanks to a partnership with one of Tesla's co-founders Jeffrey Straubel and his company Redwood Materials, The Verge
Founded by Straubel in 2017, Redwood Materials previously focused on recycling electric car batteries and breaking down any waste materials from Tesla's own battery-making process.
Chris Yu, chief product officer at Specialized, told The Verge: "Generally, the bikes will long outlast the packs for the typical user, and so it’s always been in the back of our minds: what do we do about them?"
Specialized hopes that in the future it will recover any e-bike battery using its network of dealers and retail partners before shipping to Redwood's recycling facility in Northern Nevada. The first step of the recycling process is working out what inside the battery can be recycled, this includes connectors, wires and plastics. Next, a chemical process will begin removing elements like nickel, cobalt and copper. A percentage of these materials are put back into the process of making more batteries.
Currently, Redwood aims to complete the recycling process domestically in the US. Often electronic waste can end up being shipped to developing countries rather than companies dealing with it themselves. A two-year investigation by the Basel Action Network (BAN)
in 2019 found that 352,474 metric tonnes of electronic waste was illegally shipped from the EU. Shipments from UK council recycling centers ended up in Nigeria, Tanzania and Pakistan.
Specialized plans to have a pathway for all batteries to the Redwood Materials recycling plant by the end of 2021. Chris Yu explained to The Verge that this could mean customers being made aware of the service through dealers or showing the expected end-of-life date of the better through the Specialized smartphone app. Specialized said it has been trialling the process and so far 100% of the batteries it collected have gone to Redwood. While Specialized is not unique in offering a recycling program it does seem like it is trying to offer a more complete solution.