An investigation of the current status of recycling spent lithium-ion batteries from consumer electronics in China

Fu Gu, Jianfeng Guo, Xing Yao, Peter A. Summers, Samuel D. Widijatmoko, Philip Hall

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

179 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ever-increasing demand and production of lithium-ion batteries result in disposal problems. There is little known information about recycling lithium-ion batteries from consumer electronics in China, despite China is the largest lithium-ion battery manufacturer and consumer. To address this gap, this paper aims at investigating the current status of recycling spent lithium-ion batteries from consumer electronics in China, and to provide recommendations for improving spent lithium-ion battery recycling rate. Generation, collection and recycling of spent lithium-ion batteries were investigated using a combined methodology consists of online surveys, field investigations and estimations. The survey shows that although respondents have expressed their willingness towards recycling, most of them did not know where to send their spent lithium-ion batteries. Field investigations were carried out to trace the material flow of spent lithium-ion batteries in current waste electric and electronic equipment collection systems. It was found that the spent lithium-ion batteries are not included in current collection systems, as only few recycling practitioners are collecting spent lithium-ion batteries. Inadequate supply was found to have a significant impact on current recycling industry. Combining official statistics, survey results and actual throughput of the recycling plants, it was roughly estimated that less than 10% of lithium-ion batteries used in consumer electronics are currently recycled, while others always end up in idle or landfill. This study provides essential information on status quo of recycling lithium-ion batteries from consumer electronics in China including consumers' behaviours, recycling practices and estimated recycling rate. Further, policy implications were proposed with the purpose of promoting recycling rates of spent LIBs from CEs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-780
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume161
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2017

Keywords

  • Consumer electronic
  • Field investigation
  • Online survey
  • Recycling rate
  • Spent lithium-ion battery
  • Waste electric and electronic equipment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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