Sonia Singh CEO and Co-Founder, Ziptrax Cleantech

Sonia Singh CEO and Co-Founder, Ziptrax Cleantech

Hi Sonia, please share with our readers about Ziptrax Clean Tech and what exactly you are doing at Ziptrax?

Ziptrax currently collects and recycles Li-ion batteries from E-mobility and Stationary Energy Storage and hence bring the lifecycle management of lithium ion battery into the circular economy.

At the end of the useful life of Li-ion batteries, how the batteries are recycled and reused? What kind of technology does the company use for recycling?

Based on Ziptrax’s proprietary AI technology and intelligent SaaS plug-and-play, Ziptrax provide benefits of Li-Ion Battery life extension as well as recovery of all critical battery materials from end of life Li-ion batteries (LiBs).

What are the environmental impacts associated with the recycling and how does your company address the same?

Lithium ion batteries come associated with fire hazard and are known to have caused multiple fires in trash dumps as well as landfills, due to improper handling and recycling. using circular and closed loop solutions eliminates GHG Emissions from battery recycling, and also offset and mitigates the Emissions caused by Mining of critical battery materials for Li-ion batteries.

Do you see lithium ion battery recycling in India as a problem or opportunity?

As India aims to electrify 30% of its vehicle fleet by 2030 and with BESS becoming an integral part of the Renewable Energy ecosystem, we expect a very large generation of lithium ion battery waste in the upcoming 5-7 year period. This is rather an opportunity for clean technologies to tackle and create a circular economy for lithium ion batteries.

What are the challenges with regards to recycling batteries?

Key challenges for Lithium ion battery recycling are:

  • Collection and safe handling and warehousing LiBs.
  • Emission-free pre-recycling processes.
  • Lack of maturity in technologies for extraction of critical elements from li-ion batteries.
  • Lack of investments in LiB Recycling Technology and Recycling Companies.
  • No clarity in existing recycling laws and lack of regulations in the sector.

 Is innovation making lithium-ion batteries harder to recycle? How?

As composition of battery chemistry from manufacturers of lithium ion batteries is continuously evolving and changing towards low-cobalt and high-nickel based chemistries, existing recyclers of lithium ion battery will have to change their processes to extract maximum yield from the battery scrap.

In fact, a new combination of NMC type cells, NMC-811 is expected to become main stream for lithium ion batteries in the next 2-3 years, reducing the cobalt content in batteries to just 10% of the cathode.

Have battery technology advancements changed battery recycling to any great extent?

LiB Recycling technology is in an evolutionary phase and moving towards chemistryagnostic processes in the future and it could be the key breakthrough for lithium ion battery recycling industry. Currently, a lot of R&D is being carried out in battery second life, battery life extension and 100% recovery from batteries.

According to a report the Lithium-ion battery market is estimated to grow from USD 37.4 billion in 2018 to USD 92.2 billion by 2024, at a CAGR of 16.2% during the same time frame. How do you see the recycling marketing to grow particularly in India with the rise in the demand of Lithium-ion batteries in consumer electronics, renewable energy and automotive industry beside others.

Lithium ion battery is the power house of all future intelligent and connected systems, this means LiBs have very wide range of applications today and in the coming decade. For the lithium ion battery recycling industry, this presents a ripe opportunity to enter into the market today and capture a large chunk of the market share.

In India, our estimates put the lithium ion battery recycling industry at around half a billion today, projected to grow to $5 Billion by 2025, with a 27% y-o-y growth rate during the 2019-2025 period. In waste terms, that’s over 10000 MT annual generation today in India.

Does India have the necessary resources and expertise to handle dumping of these used batteries?

The industry in India is at a nascent stage currently and large scale dumping is a big environmental hazard as well as a gross waste of national resources (as all lithium ion batteries are imported into India from China, South Korea and Japan).

Landfill Dumping must be banned through Stewardship Programs and setting up of Collection Centres under EPR rules can be used to better handle the battery disposals.

Does the Indian government have a policy in place for Li-ion battery recycling? Are there any incentives?

Currently, there is no specific li-ion battery recycling policy or incentives from the Indian government, to the best of our knowledge.

What type of policies do you look forward to propel the recycling market in the country and how do you see this segment shaping up in next five years?

Government mandates can help formalize the entire e-waste and battery waste recycling sector.  We have seen the E-waste EPR (extended producer responsibility) amendments put recycling into the top focus point for corporates and institutions.

These are some suggestions that can bring about much needed reforms for the sector:

  • LiB Policy must focus on EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) and attach Legal Liability for LiB Waste Producers to create a Battery Ownership model.
  • By promotion of Stewardship Programs and a Gate Fee can be made integral to their business models. Furthermore, this can help channelize larger volumes to Organized Sector.
  • All Lithium Ion Batteries (including those inside devices) generated by the consumer must be channelized through collection center/dealer of authorized producer/recycler through designated take back service provider of the producer.
  • Collection/Recycling centers have to obtain authorization from the concerned State Pollution Control Board to ensure that their processes do not have any adverse effect on the health of workers and the environment.

Ziptrax Cleantech is ready to provide end to end consultancy and work with the Government (s) to bring about these systemic reforms in order to boost the Organized and Authorized E-waste and Lithium ion battery Recycling industry in India. Ziptrax Cleantech is supported by Shell through the Shell E4 Program.

(This Interview was published in May Issue of Climate Samurai )