Kurt Verlin
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Ford Teams Up With Redwood Materials to Recycle End-of-Life Batteries

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Two mechanics remove a lithium-ion battery from a car
Photo: Ford

Ford has announced its support of a brand-new and comprehensive electric vehicle battery recycling program launched by Redwood Materials, a Nevada-based company founded by J.B. Straubel, former co-founder and chief technical officer at Tesla.

Redwood Materials’ program will first roll out in California, where the company will work with dealerships and dismantlers to identify end-of-life packs and recover them. It says that it will then “safely package, transport, and recycle these batteries at our facilities in neighboring Northern Nevada, and then return high quality, recycled materials back into domestic cell production.”

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One concern about the sustainability of electrified vehicles is that while they are more efficient than traditional, petroleum-powered cars while on the road, the energy and waste involved in their production and disposal may be more than enough to make up the difference. For many, this is enough to cast doubt over the true sustainability of EVs.

The new Redwood Materials program would, in theory, create a “closed-loop system” enabling end-of-life batteries to reenter the supply chain, thus achieving true sustainability. When the company first announced its partnership with Ford last year, it was to collaborate on determining how to do so. The companies seem to have managed that first step and have now moved on to the next phase: execution.

“This new program with Redwood Materials will help Ford lead America’s transition to sustainable and carbon-neutral EV manufacturing and ultimately help make electric vehicles more environmentally responsible and affordable for our customers,” said Jim Farley, Ford President and CEO.

All-electric vehicles are already more efficient and sustainable than petroleum-powered vehicles, but achieving Redwood Materials goal would take it leaps and bounds further than that, and should help raise the appeal of Ford’s upcoming new EVs like the F-150 Lightning.