ATLANTA (AP) — A company that aims to recycle lithium ion batteries from vehicles and other uses will build its first large plant in suburban Atlanta, investing $43 million and hiring 150 people.
Battery Resourcers, based in Worcester, Massachusetts, made the announcement Wednesday, saying it would take over an existing building in Covington and ramp up to full operation by August.
The company is betting that the battery supply chain, now concentrated in Asia, is about to spread out to other regions, and that its recycling process will be cleaner and cheaper than mining new materials.
“Automotive manufacturers are sitting on mountains of discarded batteries and scrap, and right now they have very few options for responsible and cost-effective disposal,” Battery Resourcers CEO Michael O’Kronley said in a statement.
Battery Resourcers will take apart, discharge and shred batteries and then process the shredded material, producing metals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese, as well as graphite and other engineered ingredients for new batteries. The company uses methods that it says can recover more than 97% of metals with zero toxic waste, producing material that outperforms newly mined ingredients.
The Covington plant will have a capacity to recycle 30,000 metric tons (33,000 tons) of batteries each year, equal to 70,000 vehicle batteries.
It’s the latest link in an electric vehicle supply-chain that Georgia officials are trying to create. SK Innovation is building a $2.6 billion, 2,600-worker battery plant in Commerce, northeast of Atlanta. And last month, electric vehicle maker Rivian Automotive announced it would build a $5 billion battery and assembly plant just east of Covington that’s projected to employ 7,500 workers.
Battery Resources chose the Georgia site because it’s close to electric vehicle and battery makers and has a good workforce, said Roger Lin, the company’s vice president of marketing & government affairs.
“As the electric vehicle industry continues its rapid growth, battery recycling has become a vital part of the supply chain, and cutting reliance on unstable areas of the globe has never been more crucial for the future,” Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said.
Battery Resourcers has pilot plants in Westborough, Massachusetts, and Novi, Michigan, in addition to Worcester, but would be able to recycle many more batteries at the Georgia plant. The company has also said it wants to build two plants in Europe by the end of the year and eventually expand to Asia, with a goal of processing 150,000 metric tons (165,000 tons) of material per year.
Battery Resources has raised more than $90 million from investors. It has already signed a contract to process spent batteries from Honda and Acura vehicles. Among other investors are venture capital arms of Jaguar Land Rover and Hitachi.
Lin said the company is getting a “competitive” incentive package. Battery Resourcers could claim various tax breaks, including an income tax credit allowing it to annually deduct $3,000 per job from state income taxes, up to $2.25 million over five years, as long as workers make at least $28,000 a year. The company could also get local property tax breaks.