Can Electric Bike Batteries Be Recycled?

The electric bike industry’s quick and accelerated global popularity can be credited to its eco-friendly technology and low running costs.

Consumers worldwide are more than eager to invest in an electric bike to be responsible inhabitants of the planet by reducing their annual carbon footprint.

However, the electric batteries these bikes use come with some dangerous chemicals, and some people have rightfully pointed out the environmental hazards of dumping an electric bike battery.

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Hence, recycling an electric bike instead of simply throwing it out as trash after it breaks down should be every consumer’s priority.

Is Recycling an Electric Bike Battery Possible?

An electric bike may physically look just like a regular bicycle; however, the addition of its electric battery makes all the difference.

Although chemical batteries have been used for a long time in all kinds of electrical devices such as mobile phones, flashlights, etc., the debate that rages on about the consequences of improperly disposing of a battery is actually quite new.

If a chemical battery is not properly treated and prepared for safe disposal, it can harm the environment in many ways.

Hence, over recent years, many electric bike mechanics and companies have come up with ways to recycle electric bike batteries to remain consistent with the eco-friendly and green technology narrative of these bikes.

Electric bike users can contact these companies whenever they feel their electric bike battery is no longer functional.

These battery recycling companies collect the batteries and devise the most practical and safest plan for a chemical battery’s disposal.

However, whether an electric bike battery will be recycled or not depends on the condition and quality of the electric bike battery.

The priority is always to look for the possibility of battery repair. If the battery is successfully repaired, it can be returned to the battery’s original owner, can be sold, or reinstalled into another electric bike.

However, if the condition of the battery is unrepairable, the recycling company will remove all the working parts and components of the electric bike battery to be reused in other gadgets and new chemical batteries.

The remaining unusable parts of the battery are treated so that they no longer threaten the environment and their disposal does not endanger anyone.

Hence, if a consumer wants to commit to playing their part in protecting the environment truly, they can certainly get their electric bike batteries recycled by contacting the right team or company of professionals.

Continue reading to learn why electric bike batteries should be recycled, the consequences of dumping a faulty chemical battery, and how electric bike experts and companies recycle batteries.

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Moreover, the article also sheds light on what causes an electric bike battery to break down prematurely and what an electric bike user can do to lengthen the battery’s expected lifespan to avoid costly repairs too soon.

Read How Long Do Bosch Electric Bike Batteries Last?

Let’s get started!

What Are Electric Bike Batteries?

An electric bike battery is either designed to be embedded inside an electric bike’s frame or installed externally for convenient recharging.

All electric bikes come with chemical batteries responsible for attracting a flow of electric charge when connected to a power source.

The electric charge is stored as chemical energy, which is then used up by the electric bike’s motor to produce kinetic energy to move the bike forward and help it pick up speed.

Lithium-ion batteries are the most common types of electric bike batteries with high amounts of lithium and less nickel and cobalt.

On average, an electric bike battery is expected to last for three to five years; however, certain riding practices can reduce the lifespan, resulting in early battery repairs and replacements.

If battery repair is too costly or impossible, many consumers unaware of the consequences of their actions throw out the battery since they think it’s of no use to them.

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Read Can Electric Bike Batteries Be Repaired?

Why Should Electric Bike Batteries be Recycled?

An electric bike battery comes with a finite amount of battery fluid, and this allows limited charging cycles during its lifetime.

A single charging cycle is completed when it gets recharged after being fully depleted. So basically, after charging from 0 to 100.

Most lithium-ion electric bike batteries have at least 1000 to 1500 charging cycles. Once the user has exhausted all the charging cycles, the battery loses its ability to store electric charge and eventually dies.

At this point, a rider can either go back to commuting via a traditional bike or a gasoline-powered vehicle, attempt to get their electric battery repaired or recycled, or throw the battery out.

However, many people do not know that it is essential to have the battery either repaired or recycled before considering disposal.

The following are some reasons recycling an electric bike battery is so important:

  • Electric bike batteries are costly and are the main driver of the bike’s high market price. The main reason for their high price is the components that make up the battery.
  • If all electric batteries are recycled to form new fully-functional batteries, the affordability of an electric bike increases.
  • Consequently, more people can invest in electric bikes, reducing the global dependence on gasoline-powered vehicles.
  • As a result, global emissions will go down, which will result in positive trends for the environment, at least on a small scale.
  • The components that make a lithium-ion electric bike battery are sourced through destructive mining processes.
  • Lithium is sourced from brine and hard rock, usually found in the earth’s crust. The mining process for collecting lithium is extensive and costly.
  • Nickel is also extracted through detained and expensive mining.
  • Mining activities can damage the earth’s natural landscapes, lead to deforestation, endanger many ecosystems, and affect miners’ lives.
  • New batteries can be produced if an electric bike battery is recycled to collect the lithium, nickel, and cobalt.
  • As a result, harmful mining activities can be minimized, which serves to protect the environment from the dangerous effects of this mining.
  • At times, people unknowingly endanger other people by throwing out damaged lithium-ion electric bike batteries.
  • This usually happens when the battery gets damaged or punctured during a rough ride or due to an accident.
  • If the damage has caused some of the battery’s lithium-ion fluid to leak, it can create a major safety hazard.
  • This happens because lithium-ion is highly reactive and flammable, like all other alkali metals. 
  • If the leaked fluid comes into contact with a spark, it will cause the battery to explode. This can be highly dangerous for those riding the bike and the people around them.
  • Moreover, heat and gas can build up inside a battery at times due to the excessive current flow, causing it to swell.
  • If such a swollen electric bike battery is mishandled or thrown out, its hazardous gas, including light hydrocarbons, can make their way into the atmosphere.
  • Hence, if a person sends their damaged or swollen battery to be properly treated, the experts will treat the battery so that it is no longer a risk to anyone.
  • Moreover, they can extract the lithium-ion from the battery and reuse it to build another, relatively cheaper electric bike battery.

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Hence, due to all these reasons, it is highly irresponsible for someone to get rid of their faulty or damaged electric bike battery by simply throwing it out or dumping it in a landfill.

Instead, they should always consult a company that deals in battery recycling to ensure the useful parts of the battery are reused, and the battery does not pose a threat to anyone.

Read Can you Pedal an Electric Bike Without the Battery?

How Does Electric Bike Battery Recycling Work?

Whenever a rider notices that their electric bike’s performance has significantly dropped, they should first take the battery to a repair workshop.

Battery repairs are usually less costly than battery replacements. If the workshop mechanic deems the battery as irreparable, that is when the user needs to consider recycling.

If you live in a country like China or the USA, where the electric bike population is high, contacting a battery recycling company is not a hassle at all.

One such company that has existed for quite some time and is highly well-reputed for its expertise is Call2Recycle.

According to their CEO Leo Raudy, the company has recycled almost 140 million pounds of chemical batteries in the last 25 years.

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The company’s goal has been to make electric bikes as popular and eco-friendly as possible while lowering the pressure on lithium, nickel, and cobalt mining.

Moreover, the company has been able to recycle the electric bike batteries to produce a range of cheaper batteries designed to be safer and offer excellent traveling ranges.

Furthermore, many electric bike retailers have enrolled with programs like Call2Recycle, allowing them to add to the recycling process and reduce potential environmental damages.

The enrollment must be done online by making an account and adding the retail shop’s location. This process is almost always free of cost to encourage shop owners to sign up with such programs.

Once the enrollment is done, Call2Recycle provides the retailer with training to safely handle a damaged or swollen battery, recycling kits, and additional safety material.

The recycling kits usually include a fireproof box and a plastic bag. The shop owners need to carefully unpack the box, put the battery in the bag, place the bag in the box and repack it.

They can then inform Call2Recycle to pick up the packed boxes. Moreover, the shop owners can also ship the packed boxes to the nearest Call2Recycle office.

Once the shipment arrives, the experts at Call2Recycle carefully unbag the battery and proceed with extracting all reusable components that are then used in making new batteries.

Read Can You Charge an Electric Bike with Solar Panels?

How to Lengthen an Electric Bike Battery’s Total Lifespan?

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Usually, people do not have to worry about repairing or recycling their electric bike batteries for at least 3 to 5 years.

However, if the rider practices poor charging habits, deliberately rides on rough and steep terrains, or delays timely repairs, the battery’s capacity is permanently reduced, and its expected lifespan is shortened.

The following tips will help you protect your electric bike battery’s charge storing capacity and will help lengthen the battery’s expected lifespan:

  • Always keep your electric bike’s battery charged between 20-90%.
  • This is the optimal charging range for a lithium-ion battery which allows the capacity and range to remain high.
  • Before leaving for a riding trip, check for routes that have smoother and flatter surfaces.
  • Always use the manufacturer-provided charging cord to recharge the battery.
  • This helps prevent the damages to a battery caused by overcharging.
  • Never ride your electric bike on poorly inflated or worn-out tires. Doing so adds stress to the battery, causing its lifespan to drop.
  • Refrain from delaying battery repairs and visit an electric bike workshop as soon as you notice a drastic drop in battery performance.
  • Never store a fully discharged battery pack.
Can Electric Bike Batteries Be Recycled
Can Electric Bike Batteries Be Recycled

Final Thoughts

Many unaware people make the mistake of throwing at a faulty electric bike battery instead of looking into repairs and the possibility of recycling.

These people do not know that such mistakes can damage the environment in many ways while endangering other people’s safety.

However, if you have already reduced the usage of a gasoline-powered personal car or public transport and prefer to travel by an electric bike to protect the environment, you probably will also be interested in responsibly disposing of the e-bike battery.

Fortunately, the process is possible and accessible in most e-bike-populated countries. Simply get in contact with a battery recycling company to ensure all usable components are restored, and the dangers associated with disposal are minimized.

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