How to Recycle Electric Scooter Batteries

Bikeshare and e-scooter programs have grown substantially over the years. In 2021, there were approximately 67.7 million users in e-scooter lending programs around the world. That’s expected to grow to 124.8 million users by 2026. The U.S., Germany, and France lead this growing market.

Most electric scooter batteries only last for 3,000 to 5,000 miles. With average use, that’s no more than four years. Heavy use, however, can lower the longevity of a rechargeable battery. With e-scooter and e-bike lending programs like Bird and Lime, a battery may wear out in just a year or two.

There are ways to help lengthen the lifespan. Avoiding the use of the e-scooter or bike when it’s below freezing or above 114º F helps extend battery life. Using proper storage techniques is also helpful in getting the most from your e-scooter or e-bike’s battery.

What does proper storage entail? If you drain the device’s battery before the winter and don’t top it up first or check the charge during the winter, you’re not properly storing that battery. You do not want to store them when they’re completely drained of charge. Get into the habit of charging them after use.

Improper Storage Can Trigger Sleep Mode

With some batteries, depleting them and not immediately topping them up will put them in a sleep mode that’s difficult to get out of. When a rechargeable lithium-ion battery is in sleep mode, trying to charge the battery before use doesn’t get you anywhere. It will flash an error and refuse to charge. While there are ways to get lithium-ion batteries out of sleep mode, it can be complex and not for the layperson. Many people feel there’s no option but to recycle it.

Whether your battery is trapped in a sleep mode and you can’t get it revived or your battery is simply dead, how do you recycle e-scooter and e-bike batteries? What happens to them when they’re recycled?

What Happens to the Battery When It’s Recycled

You’ve dropped off your batteries or sent them to an electronics recycling facility, what happens to the batteries next? These are the standard steps involved in battery recycling, much of what happens at the battery recycling facility depends on the size and age of the battery. Newer technologies can make the recycling process less complex.

Batteries have to be carefully taken apart to break them down into their individual cells. Safety must be a priority as batteries can be volatile. You may have seen news articles about fires in recycling trucks or at recycling facilities when a lithium-ion battery ruptured and sparked a fire. Battery recycling companies follow practices to keep workers safe.

The first step is to discharge the batteries. The cells are tested to see if they have any capacity left. Often, some of the cells do still contain enough capacity to power a smaller item like an electronic toy or phone.

The plastic covers, any wires, and nickel solder are separated and recycled. Plastic cases can be ground into particles and melted for reuse. If you’ve ever seen computer cases or refillable insulated coffee cups that contain recycled plastic, it’s recycled materials like this that help make them.

Cells that don’t have enough charging capacity left go through ore smelting or acid leaching to recover the cobalt and lithium. There are three main processes used in li-ion battery recycling.

  1. Pyrometallurgy (Smelting) – High temperatures that convert oxides to metals
  2. Hydrometallurgy (Leaching) – Acids are used to dissolve ions from a solid
  3. Direct Recycling/Physical Processes – Separation of the different aspects of the black mass powder

By recycling these valuable materials, it reduces the need to mine raw materials from the earth. Recycling is important for all of those reasons. It used to be that cobalt was the only material that recycling facilities focused on, but that’s changed and now recovery aims at all of the different elements. As it’s a very specialized process, it’s not something every recycling facility handles. That’s why you have to find the right facility for your e-scooter battery recycling needs.

Where You Can Recycle E-Bike and E-Scooter Batteries

There’s an important detail that people don’t realize about e-bike and e-scooter batteries. While you can recycle rechargeable batteries in many areas, recycling facilities often do not accept e-bike or e-scooter batteries. It can be challenging in more rural areas to find anyone who recycles batteries without having to drive for hours.

While it’s easy to recycle cell phones, laptops, and other rechargeable lithium-ion batteries at your local Home Depot, recycling facility, etc. You may find it harder to recycle e-bike batteries. In many cities, only bicycle specialty shops will accept them. It’s unlikely that they’ll accept mass quantities from e-scooter renting businesses. This limits your options on where to go to recycle your e-scooter and e-bike batteries when they’re spent. Call2Recycle.org makes it easy to find the closest e-bike battery recycling partner to your ZIP code.

You may find yourself limited to mail-back programs. Even those can be tricky as there are often rules on making sure the battery is in a bag and that any terminals are covered in electrical tape. Large quantities of batteries are not always eligible for battery mail-back programs. It leaves you to find a responsible e-scooter battery recycling facility on your own.

OneDrum Recycling Is an All-in-One Battery Recycling Solution

If you’re not near a bike store that accepts rechargeable batteries for e-scooters or e-bikes, you may need to find another solution. ERI can help you. Order an ERI battery box and send back your batteries directly to one of our U.S. facilities for battery recycling that follows ethical and responsible practices. Nothing is sent overseas. We are the only at-home box program that’s e-Stewards, NAID, and R2 certified with contactless pickup services.

What about a business that has dozens of batteries to recycle? Businesses in need of mass e-bike or e-scooter battery recycling will find ERI’s OneDrum solutions to be ideal. Fill the containers with large volumes of batteries without having to first sort the batteries by type or tape up the ends or bag them individually. You can recycle single-use and rechargeable batteries at the same time with ease.

Our CellBlockEx protection makes it easy to recycle all batteries without risking a fire. Save time and hassle and ship your e-bike and e-scooter batteries, and any other batteries you need to recycle responsibly. We’ll take care of the rest.