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Li-Cycle - Recovering the Value and Materials Within

As the demand for a green transition grows across industries, electrification is a rising trend across all manner of products – from lawnmowers to personal vehicles – with battery technology proving a necessity for the companies engaging with this manner of sustainable optimisation. Lithium-ion batteries in particular, with their ability to store renewable energy for later use, are becoming invaluable tools. However, lithium batteries have not historically been categorised as part of a circular economy, with materials used in the creation of the batteries only ever partially returned into the economy – and rarely into new batteries. This reality requires a solution before the use of lithium-ion batteries can truly be described as sustainable.

Founded in 2016 and based in Canada, Li-Cycle is a lithium-ion battery recycling company that is working to enable a truly circular economy.

Company President and CEO, Ajay Kochhar, is also one of Li-Cycle’s co-founders and speaks to the company’s purpose with regards to old lithium batteries. “Our business is about recovering the value and the materials within to return those back to making new lithium-ion batteries.” Working originally in the production of lithium chemicals which go into the batteries themselves, Kochhar and his co-founder, Tim Johnson, noticed that, historically, lithium has not been recovered from batteries at the end of their lifecycle. "So that was really the ‘aha’ moment to say, ‘Hey, we can do this, we can bring technology and we can bring great commercial approaches to really revolutionize the space in terms of lithium-ion batteries and create a true circular economy solution.’"

Lip-Cycle’s approach involved the development of a technical solution that combines chemistry with mechanical know-how to achieve a positive result. However, as Li-Cycle grew closer with its global customers, it became clear that there was a further issue outside of the recycling itself. “They were also always telling us, ‘Hey, a big issue we have is actually logistics.’ So, a large portion of the cost of recycling for them is in logistics.” To solve this problem, Li-Cycle has implemented a network or ‘hub’ of spokes which take the batteries, break them down non-thermally to make intermediate materials and then converts them into battery-grade end products. In this way, Li-Cycle has developed a circular economy for battery materials, as it is the companies supplying Li-Cycle with redundant batteries that receive the newly recycled materials.

This model is working well for Li-Cycle, allowing the company to grow significantly since its creation in 2016, as Kochhar explains. “We're growing at a very rapid pace. We're global. We've offices, operations here in North America, now open in Europe, APAC presence as well in Asia Pacific.” However, growth brings new challenges, such as the need to scale rapidly with structure while retaining the nimbleness of a start-up. Kochhar believes that the world is currently undergoing a ‘clean industrial revolution’ and that Li-Cycle has an important place in this transition as a member of the global supply chain.

Kochhar understands that, to enable an effective overhaul of current processes, partnerships are crucial. “Inherently, you need a whole bunch of different skill sets to create that and create that supply chain and make it happen. So inherently, you have to partner. And that is one of the key pillars of value for us alongside technology. And of course, underpinning that is a level of trust.” Li-Cycle maintains its partnerships by staying close to its customers, but always remains focused on the bigger mission to respond to the climate crisis. By ensuring that its mission underpins its activities, Li-Cycle remains a sustainable force across the sector; demonstrating a new way of doing things in a manner that will benefit today’s customers, along with generations to come.

As the demand for a green transition grows across industries, electrification is a rising trend across all manner of products – from lawnmowers to personal vehicles – with battery technology proving a necessity for the companies engaging with this manner of sustainable optimisation. Lithium-ion batteries in particular, with their ability to store renewable energy for later use, are becoming invaluable tools. However, lithium batteries have not historically been categorised as part of a circular economy, with materials used in the creation of the batteries only ever partially returned into the economy – and rarely into new batteries. This reality requires a solution before the use of lithium-ion batteries can truly be described as sustainable.

Founded in 2016 and based in Canada, Li-Cycle is a lithium-ion battery recycling company that is working to enable a truly circular economy.

Company President and CEO, Ajay Kochhar, is also one of Li-Cycle’s co-founders and speaks to the company’s purpose with regards to old lithium batteries. “Our business is about recovering the value and the materials within to return those back to making new lithium-ion batteries.” Working originally in the production of lithium chemicals which go into the batteries themselves, Kochhar and his co-founder, Tim Johnson, noticed that, historically, lithium has not been recovered from batteries at the end of their lifecycle. "So that was really the ‘aha’ moment to say, ‘Hey, we can do this, we can bring technology and we can bring great commercial approaches to really revolutionize the space in terms of lithium-ion batteries and create a true circular economy solution.’"

Lip-Cycle’s approach involved the development of a technical solution that combines chemistry with mechanical know-how to achieve a positive result. However, as Li-Cycle grew closer with its global customers, it became clear that there was a further issue outside of the recycling itself. “They were also always telling us, ‘Hey, a big issue we have is actually logistics.’ So, a large portion of the cost of recycling for them is in logistics.” To solve this problem, Li-Cycle has implemented a network or ‘hub’ of spokes which take the batteries, break them down non-thermally to make intermediate materials and then converts them into battery-grade end products. In this way, Li-Cycle has developed a circular economy for battery materials, as it is the companies supplying Li-Cycle with redundant batteries that receive the newly recycled materials.

This model is working well for Li-Cycle, allowing the company to grow significantly since its creation in 2016, as Kochhar explains. “We're growing at a very rapid pace. We're global. We've offices, operations here in North America, now open in Europe, APAC presence as well in Asia Pacific.” However, growth brings new challenges, such as the need to scale rapidly with structure while retaining the nimbleness of a start-up. Kochhar believes that the world is currently undergoing a ‘clean industrial revolution’ and that Li-Cycle has an important place in this transition as a member of the global supply chain.

Kochhar understands that, to enable an effective overhaul of current processes, partnerships are crucial. “Inherently, you need a whole bunch of different skill sets to create that and create that supply chain and make it happen. So inherently, you have to partner. And that is one of the key pillars of value for us alongside technology. And of course, underpinning that is a level of trust.” Li-Cycle maintains its partnerships by staying close to its customers, but always remains focused on the bigger mission to respond to the climate crisis. By ensuring that its mission underpins its activities, Li-Cycle remains a sustainable force across the sector; demonstrating a new way of doing things in a manner that will benefit today’s customers, along with generations to come.

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Li-Cycle - Recovering the Value and Materials Within

As the demand for a green transition grows across industries, electrification is a rising trend across all manner of products – from lawnmowers to personal vehicles – with battery technology proving a necessity for the companies engaging with this manner of sustainable optimisation. Lithium-ion batteries in particular, with their ability to store renewable energy for later use, are becoming invaluable tools. However, lithium batteries have not historically been categorised as part of a circular economy, with materials used in the creation of the batteries only ever partially returned into the economy – and rarely into new batteries. This reality requires a solution before the use of lithium-ion batteries can truly be described as sustainable.

Founded in 2016 and based in Canada, Li-Cycle is a lithium-ion battery recycling company that is working to enable a truly circular economy.

Company President and CEO, Ajay Kochhar, is also one of Li-Cycle’s co-founders and speaks to the company’s purpose with regards to old lithium batteries. “Our business is about recovering the value and the materials within to return those back to making new lithium-ion batteries.” Working originally in the production of lithium chemicals which go into the batteries themselves, Kochhar and his co-founder, Tim Johnson, noticed that, historically, lithium has not been recovered from batteries at the end of their lifecycle. "So that was really the ‘aha’ moment to say, ‘Hey, we can do this, we can bring technology and we can bring great commercial approaches to really revolutionize the space in terms of lithium-ion batteries and create a true circular economy solution.’"

Lip-Cycle’s approach involved the development of a technical solution that combines chemistry with mechanical know-how to achieve a positive result. However, as Li-Cycle grew closer with its global customers, it became clear that there was a further issue outside of the recycling itself. “They were also always telling us, ‘Hey, a big issue we have is actually logistics.’ So, a large portion of the cost of recycling for them is in logistics.” To solve this problem, Li-Cycle has implemented a network or ‘hub’ of spokes which take the batteries, break them down non-thermally to make intermediate materials and then converts them into battery-grade end products. In this way, Li-Cycle has developed a circular economy for battery materials, as it is the companies supplying Li-Cycle with redundant batteries that receive the newly recycled materials.

This model is working well for Li-Cycle, allowing the company to grow significantly since its creation in 2016, as Kochhar explains. “We're growing at a very rapid pace. We're global. We've offices, operations here in North America, now open in Europe, APAC presence as well in Asia Pacific.” However, growth brings new challenges, such as the need to scale rapidly with structure while retaining the nimbleness of a start-up. Kochhar believes that the world is currently undergoing a ‘clean industrial revolution’ and that Li-Cycle has an important place in this transition as a member of the global supply chain.

Kochhar understands that, to enable an effective overhaul of current processes, partnerships are crucial. “Inherently, you need a whole bunch of different skill sets to create that and create that supply chain and make it happen. So inherently, you have to partner. And that is one of the key pillars of value for us alongside technology. And of course, underpinning that is a level of trust.” Li-Cycle maintains its partnerships by staying close to its customers, but always remains focused on the bigger mission to respond to the climate crisis. By ensuring that its mission underpins its activities, Li-Cycle remains a sustainable force across the sector; demonstrating a new way of doing things in a manner that will benefit today’s customers, along with generations to come.

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