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Is EV another Plastic like Disaster?

Updated: Apr 3

When plastic found its way to mainstream commercial applications in early 1900s, it was lauded for its properties, low cost and the fact that it helped save natural resources (mainly wood). Fast forward to 2022, plastic waste is one of our biggest environmental concerns because humans failed to dispose it responsibly. So much so, that we are now shifting to alternatives of plastic, one of which is paper, which is where we started from.

We did not write this to give you a lecture on how to save the environment, but to tell you that we’re at the genesis of another plastic-like revolution – EV batteries.

EVs significantly reduce carbon emission, but there’s a flip side to this. Each EV battery has a life of only 3-5 years, after which it has to be replaced with a new battery. Now if the old battery ends up in a landfill, its cells can release dangerous toxins, including heavy metals, that can seep into the groundwater. By 2030, India would have over 50 Million EVs on road. When 50 million batteries reach the end of their life, imagine the scale of the problem!


The Government of India released the Battery Waste Management Rules in 2022 that mandates producers and importers of batteries for the collection and recycling or refurbishment of waste batteries. Several startups have sprung up to recycle EV batteries or give them a second life. But can these solutions grow faster than the pace of growth of the EV industry? Have we learnt from our mistakes, or are we headed for another plastic-like disaster?


 

This article is a part of the March'24 edition of our Startup Newsletter. Here's the complete publication:


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