Jeffrey Straubel, a co-founder and former chief technology officer for electric car maker Tesla is behind Redwood Materials, which has set about keeping batteries out of landfill since its 2017 debut.
Straubel’s business, at present, largely recycles electric car batteries and also gives Tesla a hand with breaking down scrap material from its battery collaboration with Panasonic. Among other customers, the firm also separates material waste for the likes of Amazon and Nissan. It has the capability to handle everything from precious and industrial metals, through to harder to process elements such as lithium in its various forms.
Specialized chief product officer Chris Yu told The Verge “Generally, the bikes will long outlast the packs for the typical user and so it’s always been in the back of our minds: what do we do about them?”
He went on to reveal that by the end of this year he hopes to forge a route to Redwood Materials for every Specialized electric bike battery. That link would be delivered via the bike shop and via the apps that syn with the electric bike’s system. Notifications would alert the customer toward the battery’s expected end of life what recycling opportunities are available, as well as how to replace their bike’s battery for future use.
At present Specialized is piloting the partnership with Redwood, collecting and sending on 100% of those batteries that it receives.
Straubel has reportedly been surprised how much lithium content arriving at his battery recycling facilities has stemmed from electric bikes and that volume is only expected to grow. “It’s kind of a bellwether, i think, for passenger EVs,” he is reported as saying.
In fact, fresh data has pinned year-on-year growth of electric bike sales in the U.S. at 145% between 2019 and 2020.