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Senator Peters Leads Senate Colleagues in Urging Department of Energy to Promote EV Battery Recycling

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI) and Peter Welch (VT) led a group of a dozen colleagues in urging the Department of Energy (DOE) to bolster the nation’s supply of electric vehicle (EV) batteries by promoting the emerging EV battery recycling industry. In a letter to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, the senators highlight the need for DOE to work with states to coordinate battery collection and prioritize funding technologies that facilitate battery recycling. The letter also specifically calls for the DOE to implement provisions based on Peters’ Strategic EV Management Act, which directs the General Services Administration (GSA) to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for battery management across the federal EV fleet. The senators believe these steps are essential to bolster the domestic supply chain of critical minerals needed to support EV production, and reduce our dependence on adversarial foreign nations for critical minerals.

“Bringing critical mineral production to the U.S. and our free-trade partners is an important next step in the EV transition. But mining alone will not fully meet increased demand and risks significant environmental degradation. EV battery recycling can help bridge the gap in our domestic supply chain and reduce our dependence on foreign imports,” wrote the senators.

The senators continued, “Through coordination, harnessing federal purchasing power, and strengthening battery recycling incentives, the Department can ensure U.S. leadership in [the EV battery] industry.”

Peters has previously supported efforts to strengthen our domestic battery manufacturing supply chain, including by recycling EV batteries. In 2023, Peters introduced the bipartisan Critical Mineral Independence Act, which would direct the Department of Defense (DOD) to develop a strategy for reducing our nation’s dependency on the foreign critical mineral supply chain and bolster domestic production. Additionally, Peters introduced legislation to create an intergovernmental task force aimed at identifying opportunities to increase domestic production and recycling of critical minerals. In 2022, Peters helped secure more than $8 million in funding for Michigan Technological University to develop and advance technologies needed to recycle and reuse electric vehicle batteries.

Text of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Secretary Granholm,

As the American transportation sector continues to electrify, we urge the Department of Energy (DOE) to take steps to bolster and diversify the nation’s domestic supply of electric vehicle (EV) batteries—including by promoting the emerging EV battery recycling industry. Specifically, we urge DOE to:

  • Work with the General Services Administration (GSA) to carry out Sec. 7231 through 7234 of the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA; Public Law 117-263) and partner with other federal agencies to develop and implement plans for second-life applications of EV batteries.
  • Coordinate EV battery collection at the state and local level to strengthen the supply chain for battery recyclers.
  • Prioritize funding technologies that facilitate efficient battery recycling when implementing the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA; Public Law 117-18).

As you know, EV sales set a record in 2023, surpassing one million cars sold. As the adoption of EVs accelerates, so too will the consumption of the critical minerals and materials needed to construct new batteries: projections indicate that, by 2034, the U.S. will consume roughly 500,000 metric tons of lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and graphite, combined. The global supply of these minerals is currently dominated by China, which accounts for 60% of production and 85% of processing capacity. Bringing critical mineral production to the U.S. and our free- trade partners is an important next step in the transition to EVs and other zero-emissions transportation. But mining alone will not fully meet increased mineral demand and risks significant environmental degradation and public health harms.

EV battery recycling can help bridge the gap in our domestic supply chain and reduce our dependence on foreign imports. Some estimates indicate that by 2027 more than 200,000 metric tons of American EV batteries could reach the end of their practical life. The supply of end-of- life batteries is projected to increase rapidly in subsequent decades. Used batteries contain valuable mineral resources and reclaiming them will help increase our manufacturing capacity. For example, some early entrants into the recycling field have salvaged up to 95% of the critical minerals from an EV battery. These high-efficiency yields will allow the U.S. to build a more resilient battery supply chain.

Congress has taken bipartisan steps to support the EV battery recycling industry. The IIJA allocated more than $6 billion for advanced battery manufacturing, research, and development. This investment has supported several programs focused on recycling, such as the Battery Materials Processing Grants Program, which is essential to building U.S. capacity for processing recycled material outputs. The Department has already awarded $2.8 billion of this funding, supporting 15 projects across the country. We commend DOE’s work to date and encourage you to continue swift implementation to meet the growing demand for these technologies.

We also urge DOE to take additional steps to support the emerging battery recycling industry. Through coordination, harnessing federal purchasing power, and strengthening battery recycling incentives, the Department can ensure U.S. leadership in this industry. Specifically, we ask that the Department:

  • Promote Battery Recycling in the Federal Government. DOE has been working across the federal government to electrify and optimize the efficiency of the federal fleet.10 DOE should consider partnering with other agencies to develop plans for managing retired federal EVs, including repurposing batteries through second-life applications and mineral recycling. The Department should also coordinate with GSA as it implements the Strategic EV Management provisions of the FY 2023 NDAA.
  • Improve Used Battery Collection. DOE should leverage the IIJA’s Consumer Electronics Battery Recycling, Reprocessing, and Battery Collection program to ensure a functional supply chain by working with grant recipients to coordinate the distribution of collected batteries to recyclers at scale. DOE should also work with recipients to conduct public outreach and education campaigns to maximize the efficacy of battery collection programs. Finally, DOE should coordinate with the EPA on its Battery Collection Best Practices and Battery Labeling Guidelines, which the EPA is required to complete by 2026 under the IIJA.
  • Prioritize Technologies to Facilitate Efficient Recycling. DOE should continue to prioritize battery recycling as it implements the IIJA. Funding opportunities should focus on technologies that result in the highest yield of recycled minerals, reduce pollution from non-mineral components, and are the most energy efficient. DOE should also concentrate advanced manufacturing grants on battery designs that facilitate recycling to maximize circular management of resources.

We applaud DOE’s efforts to strengthen the emerging battery recycling industry in the U.S., which will further our transition to a zero-emission transportation sector, strengthen our energy security, and bolster American manufacturing. We appreciate your attention to this matter and request a briefing for our staff on DOE’s battery recycling programs by July 19, 2024.