Making Green Tech Greener

Charging Forward with EV Battery Recycling

As part of global efforts to reduce carbon emissions, we have seen an intensified push to replace gas and diesel-powered vehicles with electric vehicles. At the same time, headlines and soundbites have been asking, “Are EVs really greener?” These stories typically point out concerns regarding the social toll and energy required to procure the precious metals, especially cobalt, nickel and lithium, used in battery production; the still fossil-fuel-intensive process of producing the energy needed to recharge EV batteries, and a lack of efficient recycling of EV batteries.

EVs are Greener than ICE Cars, and  More Recycling Will Make Them Even Greener

According to the article “Carbon Footprint Face-Off: A Full Picture of EVs vs. Gas Cars,” published Oct. 11, 2023, in Recurrent Auto, EVs become cleaner than gas cars after two years of use, and carbon dioxide emissions over the lifetime of a new gasoline car will average 410 grams per mile vs. just 110 grams per mile for a new electric vehicle. As energy production methods get greener, and as recycling of EV batteries becomes more common and more efficient, that gap will widen.

It is at the recycling side of this equation that I have a business success story to tell – how doing what’s good for our planet is also creating new business opportunities. As recently as five years ago, Chemical and Engineering News reported that only five percent of lithium-ion batteries were being recycled. Just four years later, CBT News (Car Biz Today) reported that battery recycling can capture and reuse 95 percent of the minerals needed for making new EV batteries.

Developing End-of-Life Solutions for New Tech

It is exciting to work for a company that is taking a leadership role in providing end-of-life solutions for EV batteries and other green technologies to help ensure those technologies are even greener. First America started out as a traditional scrap metal recycler, and moved into electronics recycling as the volume of business and consumer e-waste grew. 

Today and every day, First America is watchful for what’s next – what’s on the horizon from a product end-of-life standpoint. It is because of our vision that we are actively and aggressively addressing the relatively new need for recycling solar panels, AI-operated industrial robots, battery recycling in general and hybrid and electric vehicle battery recycling in particular.

Recovering Precious Metals is Key to EV Battery Recycling

The goal of recycling is to isolate individual materials so they can be reintroduced into the supply chain. The most valuable materials to recover from electric and hybrid vehicle batteries, both monetarily and in terms of reducing the greatest environmental costs during mining and refining, are metals, including copper, manganese, nickel, lithium and cobalt. First America collects, separates and aggregates like-content components to prepare for smelting to separate carbon from metals as part of the black mass recovery process.

Many recyclers can create black mass, but only a few can recover specific precious metals. Among First America’s pre-qualified partners, we have not only black mass recovery expertise but also partners that are actively innovating to develop more efficient means of recovering these precious metals. We also have the advantage of ample facility space, with eight locations strategically located centrally, north to south and coast to coast across America.

These factors have already made First America a chosen recycler for more than one OEM of electric vehicles, as well as a receiver of deinstalled batteries from auto dealerships installing new OEM batteries to extend the lives of the EVs. James is constantly looking forward toward the next wave of obsolescence that will become a new business opportunity for us while we do our part for the circular economy and making what’s already green even greener.

Les Bury is president of First America, an R2-certified national leader in technology remarketing and recycling.

About First America

A national leader in certified technology remarketing and recycling, headquartered in Morris, Ill., First America serves its customers across the United States from a network of strategically located facilities. First America provides whole unit and component recovery, reuse and resale services, along with critical documentation and support services to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Minority-certified, ITAR-registered and R2/V3-certified, First America helps customers in new energy, EV/HV, telecommunications, healthcare, manufacturing, financial, insurance, education and government preserve our global resources for future generations.

Photo 1:  Safe and responsible recycling of EV and H/EV batteries helps ensure that these technologies deliver on the promise of a greener environment. Pictured is an EV battery, along with other types of batteries First America processes by facilitating the separation and reclamation of valuable and scarce heavy metals for eventual reuse.

Photo Credit: First America, a leader in electronics and metal recycling, serving a growing range of industries, including EV and H/EV batteries, solar and AI robotics.

Photo 2: As the EV market surges, the influx of batteries like this one into recycling facilities highlights the crucial need for secure and proficient processing. 

Photo credit: First America, one of the nation’s largest recycling companies, offering EV battery and parts recycling solutions.


Melvie Gabriel, First America | 408.420.8324

Jane Cooper, Cooper Hong Inc. | 630.377.2555