The EV battery recycling industry today is still in its infancy. However, in this segment of "Backstage Pass" on Motley Fool Live, recorded on April 5, Fool contributors Jason Hall, Tyler Crowe, and Travis Hoium answer a member's question about used battery disposal and how the business will grow significantly over the next decade.
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Jason Hall: G.P. Fool asks, "What are the costs associated with used battery disposal come into the formula?" That's the other side of this, there's the environmental impact of getting these things out of the ground, and then there's the perceived environmental impact of, what do you do after their usable life has ended.
I agree that this should be part of as much as there's the real environmental impact of the mining operations, but also the nimbyism aspect. It's the perception that affects whether it happens in the U.S. versus whether we'd like to keep it overseas somewhere where we don't have to see it, but we get the economic benefit of it is another conversation for another day.
But I just want to say this about the backend disposal side of things. I think this is a really important thing for people to understand. This is by and large a talking point of entrenched industries. It is very much so. The average car in the U.S. produces somewhere around five tons of emissions every year. In one year, the average car produces about five tons of emissions. That just goes into the atmosphere and we all pay the social price, kids that have asthma, global warming, dirty water, all of those things. Those are real costs that we all as a society have to soak up.
Frankly, the entrenched industries that are profiting from the model the way it is now, love to plant that fear, uncertainty, and doubt about, what are we going to do with all these batteries? What are we going to do? We're going to figure it out I think is the point, Tyler.
Tyler Crowe: Well on top of that, just from the mineral demand perspective, one thing that as far as I know, I've looked at it at a short glance. There are no publicly traded companies that are involved in this right now. But battery recycling is going to be a big thing it has to. I was just looking at a recent study on it. I had it pulled up and I lost it, unfortunately.
But it was basically saying that the battery recycling industry right now is about $4 billion in the United States. It's expected to grow to about $20 billion in 10 years. Because as these things come offline, the minerals that are involved in these batteries are too valuable to just go to the scrap yard.
Travis Hoium: Apple (AAPL -0.10%) has done this with iPhones, we know that companies will figure this out.
Hall: I want to say.
Crowe: It's going to happen.
Hall: It's going to happen. G.P Fool I don't want you to feel like I was trying to minimize that concern because I do think it's a real concern. I mainly wanted to get it up because a lot of upvotes are happening. There's a lot of interest in that.
I think as an investor and as a citizen of the world, I think it's absolutely going to be a net benefit because again, we're talking tons of impact every year versus a few hundred pounds at the end of that battery's life, which is a decade, and that's a massive, massive difference. I think again like Tyler was saying, it's going to be an economic opportunity, and it could be an opportunity for investors too.