UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Electric vehicle lithium-ion battery recycling in China : scale and policy challenges Sun, Jie


China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of Electric Vehicles (EVs). This study assesses: (i) the number of future passenger and commercial electric vehicles (EVs), and consequent retired lithium-ion battery (LIB) amounts in China and (ii) current Chinese policies regarding retired battery reuse and recycling. The first part of this work used the Bass Diffusion Model (BDM) framework to predict the China’s future EV sales trends and uses those numbers to calculate retired battery amounts. We use 4 scenarios to assess future EV sales based on (i) solely historical trends for internal combustion vehicles (ICEVs); (ii) a rapid sales scenario for EVs; (iii) a scenario based on government goals for EVs and (iv) a slow uptake scenario. The scenario based on historical trends for ICEVs predicts the most rapid growth rate and is expected to reach market saturation (95% adoption) within the next decade and provides the best fit for the EV and ICEV data. Thus, this work predicts a far more rapid uptake of EVs in China than previous work and government predictions. The results show that the cumulated retired battery amounts across scenarios range between 120 million tonnes to 263 million tonnes by 2060, with the higher end of this range being the most plausible. This sets up an immediate challenge for the Chinese battery recycling regulatory system. The second section combines a review of existing Chinese state and regional policies regarding the reuse and recycling of retired EV batteries, along with a combination of surveys and 16 interviews on current and future policy expectations. We find that current policy directives are mostly issued on a national level and intended to serve primarily as guidelines for the industry. Experts see the recycling industry as informal and fragmented and are deeply concerned about lack of monitoring and an absence of emission standards in the reuse and recycle sector. As retired battery amounts are expected to grow fast, experts recommended introducing the deposit scheme, extended producer responsibility (EPR), closed-loop tracking system, and qualification of recycling facilities to solve the current policy deficiencies and industrial problems.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International