Volkswagen of America and Car Parts Recycling Startup Redwood Materials have recently announced their collaboration to turn old laptops and other consumer electronics into electric vehicle (EV) batteries. With this step, they are aiming to reduce the cost and environmental impact associated with mining and shipping raw materials needed to make traditional batteries. Redwood Materials is an innovative company that recovers more than 95% of critical minerals (like nickel, cobalt, lithium, and copper) from old batteries and manufactures them into battery components for new electric vehicles and energy storage products.
As part of this collaboration, Volkswagen of America will be setting up bins at certain dealerships to collect used consumer electronics containing lithium-ion batteries. These devices include cell phones, power tools, toothbrushes, headphones, and other electronic devices. The collected items will be sent to Redwood’s Nevada processing facility, where they will be recycled and repurposed into EV batteries. The first 14 dealerships are set to launch this program on April 22 in Wisconsin and New Jersey. Additionally, Volkswagen will have a recycling bin at the New York International Auto Show from April 5 to 16.
Apart from consumer electronics, Redwood Materials also works with companies like Panasonic to recycle scrap from battery cell production. In the early stages of 2021, Redwood quietly opened up a consumer e-waste recycling program. It provides an address on their website for consumers to send in their old electronics and has already collected tens of thousands of pounds of electronics.
JB Straudel, the co-founder and CEO of Redwood Materials, is a Tesla alumnus who has long argued that repurposing and recycling used batteries is the way of the future. The partnership of VW and Redwood is a direct effort to decrease the environmental burden and cost associated with traditional battery production while simultaneously putting old electronics to use. This move is a crucial step forward in the constant effort to reduce waste and recycle materials.