Batteries have become pervasive within manufactured products — from small “button” batteries to large format electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Due to their prevalence, batteries are now found in the majority of recycled materials. The recycled materials industry is critical to maintaining a safe and sustainable battery supply chain.

As batteries become more prevalent in our everyday lives, fire incidents are increasing due to improper handling and disposal. Most consumers are not aware of the potential dangers when batteries are improperly managed in their homes or end up in the recycling system. As the voice of the recycling industry, ISRI is uniquely poised to identify key stakeholders needed for collaborative discussions to identify the challenges and opportunities associated with the growing integration of batteries in our everyday lives.

The recycled materials industry recycles more than 17 million automobiles annually, and produces the steel, copper, and aluminum needed by both domestic and global manufacturers. Therefore, ISRI is partnering with stakeholders — including the automotive industry, the steel industry, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), EV battery recyclers and others, as well as federal and state policy makers — to raise awareness of some of the challenges with all battery types and provide our expertise to help develop actions to maintain a safe sustainable supply chain, especially with EV battery management.

“Safety is the number one value for ISRI,” said Cheryl Coleman, ISRI’s senior vice president of advocacy and sustainability. “When we say safety, we’re not just talking about worker safety and in our operations, we’re also talking about the safety of first responders and the communities around us.”

ISRI is working with other organizations to create a multi-level High Voltage Electric Vehicle Technology Training.

The first in the series is an online awareness tutorial, High Voltage Electric Vehicle Technology Training for Recycling Professionals, where participants learn the hazards associated with different EV batteries. It is free and takes about an hour to complete. Trainees must successfully complete the course to be eligible for the second level.

The second level course is an in-person classroom and hands-on training offered in collaboration with the Energy Security Agency located in Piqua, Ohio. This is a more technical course designed to give participants a good understanding of how to physically handle EV batteries. The third level course will be targeted more towards management level professionals responsible for onsite management of batteries in their operations.

In addition to the training, ISRI is also working on the following with regards to batteries:

  • Take Charge battery safety public awareness campaign in South Carolina.
  • Hosting webinars with the Department of Commerce (dates will be sent out soon).
    • Some of the webinars will address the Biden administration’s announcement of more than $192 million in new funding for recycling batteries from consumer products, launching an advanced battery research and development (R&D) consortium, and the continuation of the Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize, which began in 2019.
  • Meeting with the EPA this August regarding a guidance document they issued covering lithium-ion batteries under RCRA (as universal waste).
  • Working with the Department of Energy and the REMADE Institute on research and development related to batteries.
  • The Roundtables (Sept. 6-8) will have batteries as a focus.
  • America Recycles Day (Nov. 15)
    • Will have discussions and actions around battery management; EV battery management will be a significant component. We will be including policy makers from the local to the federal level as well as the manufacturers, first responders, and all who are engaged in or have a role in this area.

These events will build on ISRI’s past battery resources including:

  • The Future of EV/Battery Recycling (Originally presented at The Roundtables 2022)
  • The Evolving Battery Landscape in Electronics and Metals Recycling (Originally presented at ISRI2023 Convention)
  • Electric Vehicles: Are You and Your Facilities Ready? (Originally presented at ISRI2023 Convention)
  • Reuse & Recycling in a Changing World of IoT (Originally presented at ISRI2023 Convention)
  • Lithium-Ion Batteries: Creating a Safety Training Program (Originally presented at ISEC 2023)
  • Lithium-Ion Battery Safety: Proactive Preparation (Originally presented at ISEC 2023)
  • Electric Vehicle and Li ion Battery Safety Awareness (Originally presented at ISEC 2023)

“We’re not focused just on batteries when it comes to electric vehicles. We’re focused on the entire car because we know that the composition of these cars is changing as they are developing more and more knowledge and technology around these batteries,” said Coleman.

In addition to providing guidance on safely handling batteries and preventing thermal events, ISRI has been spearheading legislative and policy discussions with government and other relevant stakeholders. “There is bipartisan support for the U.S. to transition to a decarbonized economy and the recycled materials industry has an integral role in providing the high-quality materials to the manufacturing sector to help achieve this goal. Thus, the industry must be a part of policy discussions and decisions related to meeting national commitments to transition to a decarbonized economy by maintaining a safe and stable manufacturing supply chain,” stated Coleman.

The recycled materials industry has the expertise to manage batteries as well as the various types of vehicles that are powered by electric batteries. Batteries have been at the forefront of many ISRI initiatives, which serve as a foundation for future projects and blueprints as more and more items make use of batteries. “Electrification is not limited to EVs, it involves thoughtful planning and a systematic approach to creating sustainable systems.  There needs to be a framework on how we’re going to methodically keep these supply chains sustainable and safe. There are so many components that could touch this. ISRI, as the voice of the recycled materials industry, is in a position to provide the leadership and expertise to help develop the proper framework and ensure there is a successful transition,” concluded Coleman.

Arnulfo Moreno

Arnulfo Moreno

Arnulfo Moreno is a Communications Manager at ReMA. He is fascinated by the innovation and sustainability found in the recycling industry. He graduated from The Catholic University of America where he majored in Media Studies and minored in Spanish. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with his collection of short stories he hopes to one day finish writing.