Technology leading to more tracking of people and goods could tie into higher-value recycling practices in the end-of-life-vehicle sector, according to some presenters at the 2019 E-Mobility & Circular Economy (EMCE 2019) conference. That event was organized by Switzerland-based ICM AG and held in Tokyo July 1-3.
Reuse, repair and remanufacturing opportunities are being pursued in Europe and elsewhere by Germany-based Circular Economy Solutions GmbH (C-ECO). The company’s Markus Wagner says remanufacturing components (which unlike repair involves an ownership change) “can preserve more of the value” of a component, including an electric vehicle (EV) battery pack.
Wagner said C-ECO is “the transport link,” offering logistics and some storage services for automotive components that can be remanufactured. As EVs gain market share, by 2030 “there should be a huge supply” of obsolete EV battery packs. When handling these, remanufacturing “can provide value,” said Wagner.
Battery producers, automakers and companies like C-ECO, Wagner added, will need to share information adequately not only to maximize the value when recycling, but also to ensure such batteries are safely disassembled.
Sun Wei, a senior technical officer with Volkswagen (China) Investment Co. Ltd., said the Chinese government is developing a “central cloud” as a repository for information gathered from the “onboard ecosystems” of newer vehicles.
The “real-time monitoring” in newer cars is poised to play a role in an extended producer responsibility (EPR) system for battery packs in EVs, said Sun. While it is currently hypothetical, Sun speculated the battery data gathered “can identify reuse and remanufacturing” candidates among the EV battery packs found in China’s future ELV stream.
Batteries could even be tracked in a way similar to how entire vehicles are through the vehicle identification number (VIN) system, he added.
Vivian Tai, a Taiwan-based senior manager for United States-based Dell, said electronics producers have long dealt with EPR systems in many parts of the world, and Dell has emphasized sustainability through its own 2020 Legacy of Good plan. “We have to think about the value of maximizing resources,” she stated.
Dell has enacted programs to use more recycled-content plastics in its products and its packaging, said Tai, and has recently been using recycled carbon fiber in some products. “A lot of collaboration is required for these efforts,” she commented, adding her opinion that Dell is “leading the way on components large and small” when it comes to recycling.