Britishvolt has formed a battery recycling joint venture with partner, Glencore.

The JV will develop an ecosystem for battery recycling in the UK, to be anchored at a new recycling plant located at the Britannia Refined Metals operation (BRM; located in Northfleet, Kent), a Glencore company.

BRM will continue with its current production and trading operations.

The project sees a return to recycling for BRM, securing existing jobs and creating new ones. Once complete, the plant will be Glencore and Britishvolt’s first battery recycling facility in the UK with an expected processing capacity of a minimum of 10,000 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries per year, including but not limited to battery manufacturing scrap, portable electronics batteries and full EV packs.

The facility will process all Britishvolt’s battery manufacturing scrap from its gigafactory in Blyth.

The facility is expected to be operational by mid-2023 with the long-term aim of being 100% powered by renewable energy. The partnership will also look to develop other recycling activities, such as black mass refining into battery grade raw materials.

The JV will leverage Glencore’s recycling experience across end-of-life materials such as discarded electronics, copper and alloy scraps and black mass.

“This project adds much to our existing relationship, with Glencore supplying Britishvolt with responsibly-sourced cobalt,” said Britishvolt Global COO, Timon Orlob.

“Recycling is key to a successful energy transition and has always been a major part of Britishvolt’s business model.

“We’ve been looking for the perfect partner to help kick start a UK battery recycling industry and FTSE100-listed Glencore has expert historical experience in recycling. This JV will help us both to create a truly sustainable battery value-chain, create jobs and develop new battery recycling technologies. Both Britishvolt and Glencore are fully committed to reducing carbon across the supply chain.”

For his part, Glencore head cobalt trader, David Brocas, added: “Both companies are united in their ambition to further the energy and mobility transition. Glencore has decades of recycling experience across multiple disciplines [e-waste/copper scrap/battery].

“This recycling partnership complements our long-term supply agreement for responsible cobalt from our operations in Norway and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We believe the opportunity to utilise BRM’s operations as a battery recycling facility will help support the development of a UK battery recycling industry. It will also play a part in furthering the UK’s climate ambitions as well as Glencore’s as we work towards net zero total emissions by 2050.”

The partnership will also research how to make recycling of EV batteries easier and more cost effective, maximising their supply chain value and to influence legislation, including increasing regulation of recycling and ESG requirements.

Britishvolt’s gigaplant will regenerate a site which was previously home to the UK’s largest coal-fired power station.

According to the Faraday Institution, notes Britishvolt, although large amounts of lithium-ion battery packs will be available for recycling from around 2028, there are no substantial recycling facilities currently in the UK. Many UK manufacturers currently export used batteries to European facilities for recycling.