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GM’s Ultium Cells LLC Will Recycle 100 Percent of Scrap

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The Ultium battery for the Hummer EV
The Ultium battery for the Hummer EV
Photo: General Motors

Ultium Cells LLC is a joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution that will create Ultium battery cells for upcoming electric vehicles. Recently, Ultium Cells came to an agreement with Li-Cycle that it will recycle as much as 100 percent of the scrap that comes from battery cell manufacturing.

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What are the venture’s plans for recycling?

Ultium Cells will recycle battery materials utilizing a new hydrometallurgical process. This will release 30 percent less greenhouse gas than more traditional methods. The venture can then reuse up to 95 percent of the materials, which include aluminum, cobalt, copper, graphite, lithium, manganese, and nickel, when producing new batteries. Thanks to their modular design, Ultium batteries will be easier to both recycle and reuse than other batteries.

“Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain,” said Ajay Kochhar, Li-Cycle’s president and CEO and co-founder. 

Since 2013, each time that GM has received a battery pack from a customer, whether it be one replaced under warranty or in another situation, it has recycled or reused 100 percent of the pack. Accordingly, the majority of GM EVs have gotten refurbished packs when they were being repaired.

The automaker previously introduced a zero-waste initiative to keep over 90 percent of its manufacturing waste out of landfills as well as incinerators. It aims to accomplish this objective by 2025 along with several other sustainability goals it has announced in recent years. The automaker will hopefully attain these goals, as long as the pandemic and parts shortages haven’t delayed its efforts.

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Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle will start using their new recycling process at a later date this year.