Electric automakers in China now have an added task beyond just manufacturing vehicles: dealing with batteries. Reuters said the country’s industry ministry put out interim rules this week holding electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers responsible for creating facilities for collecting and recycling spent batteries in an effort to address waste.
Lithium battery waste could reach up to 170,000 metric tons in 2018, and China’s government is hurrying to improve recycling capabilities, according to Reuters, as the waste threatens to become a mounting pollution source. The new rules say carmakers must recover EV batteries, and set up service outlets to gather and store the devices, and transfer them to specialist recyclers.
The ministry also said these EV companies must establish what Reuters described as a maintenance service network enabling people to either repair or exchange old batteries easily. The notice said companies should adopt measures inciting good practices among customers, like battery repurchase pacts or subsidies. EV carmakers — with battery manufacturers and sales units — also have to erect a traceability system to identify owners of batteries that were discarded.
Battery makers also have another responsibility under the new rules: providing technical training for automakers to dismantle and store old batteries. They’re encouraged as well to adopt standardized designs for batteries that can be easily taken apart.
China began promoting electric vehicles just under a decade ago, in 2009, according to Reuters, and aim to be a leading producer for the world. The industry could help the country restrain emissions from cars, promote technology industries, and boost energy security. How will these rules impact the EV industry in China? The answers remain to be seen — and time will tell if the new rules do indeed curb waste.