Electric scooter go-ahead risks hastening waste battery mountain, experts warn

24th February 2020 | Recycling

Making electric scooters legal in the UK could hasten a waste crisis which threatens to create a “mountain” of discarded batteries, experts have suggested. Currently the use of electric scooters is illegal in the UK but the Government is set to begin the process of legalising the vehicles later this month. Already, researchers have warned about the need to find better ways to recycle batteries in light of the rising take-up of electric cars. Sales of electric vehicles jumped 144 per cent last year.

The UK does not currently have the facilities to completely process electric car batteries and instead most are sent to Belgium. However, Gavin Harper, a Faraday Institution research fellow, said there were further concerns with how electric scooter batteries would be recycled or processed.

Electric scooter

“For electric cars, the size of the vehicle means that it is more likely to be processed at the end of life in a responsible way, unlike say, portable electronic batteries that can end up in the back of a kitchen drawer or disposed of dangerously in the household waste,” he said. “Electric scooter batteries, also being relatively small, have the potential to be disposed of irresponsibly, but given that they are bigger than portable electronic batteries, which are already causing fires in Waste Management facilities, they also have the potential to cause fires in those facilities if incorrectly disposed of,” Mr Harper said.

He said when it came to managing batteries, and making sure processes were in place to recycle those batteries in the UK once they reached the end of their lives, “their more batteries we have to deal with from the more sectors, the larger the challenge.”

Well-known escooter companies such as Bird and Lime have partnered with recycling companies to make sure they are processes “responsibly” after they can no longer be used.

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