In partnership with Transport Scotland and Scottish Enterprise, Zero Waste Scotland has commissioned a new study that suggests that developing a circular economy by recycling batteries could boost green jobs in the country.
Battery waste is predicted to triple within the next 25 years as more people make the move to electric vehicles (EVs) from petrol and diesel, with 40 per cent of the expected battery waste coming from EVs. According to an analysis, there could be an extra 60,000 tonnes of used batteries needing to be disposed of annually by 2045, according to Materials Recycling World.
However, Zero Waste Scotland says this presents major economic benefits for Scotland, as well as the potential for ‘significant’ job opportunities.
Currently, most used batteries are sent to landfill, despite the valuable and potentially hazardous materials contained within.
The report suggests that scaled-up and improved battery recycling operations would create employment, and allow precious materials to be reused and help Scotland achieve its climate targets.
It includes key recommendations such as updating the existing extended producer responsibility scheme for batteries, presenting manufacturers with a greater duty to minimise waste and associated emissions, introducing battery recycling targets and carbon footprint declarations to discourage waste, and designing new, easily-disassembled batteries.
The increased demand for batteries following the transition to EVs could help boost jobs in the EV industry and battery supply chain across the UK by 60,000 jobs, from 186,000 to 246,000, according to the British research institute, the Faraday Institution.
The chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, Iain Gulland, said: “This report sees us map out a potential resource and revenue stream for Scotland’s future.
“It is one of a number of resource mapping reports Zero Waste Scotland plans to produce to ensure we are armed with the knowledge we need to capitalise on the economic opportunities of sustainable resource management in a net-zero future.”
By forecasting the future demand for batteries, he explained, it will be possible to identify any opportunities that will help develop a circular approach to how batteries are managed at the end of their useful lifespan, and embracing those opportunities will be key for Scotland to achieve its net-zero ambitions.
The agency found that around 40 per cent of future battery waste could come from the EV industry by assessing the expected increasing demand for batteries across key sectors, including transport and logistics.
However, the high levels of consumption of technological goods, such as smartphones, over the past decade will also be a major source.
Andy McDonald, head of low-carbon transition at Scottish Enterprise, said there is a huge opportunity for new innovative battery technology that supports the increased use of electric vehicles.
“As these reports highlight, there is also significant additional resource, revenue and jobs potential from battery remanufacturing and we will utilise the findings and link to wider work around energy transition that will be key to reaching Scotland’s net-zero targets,” he said.
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