Chevrolet

The Biden administration has wholeheartedly embraced electric vehicles in its proposed infrastructure plan and other areas of the government. But the president also wants the US supply chain to better compete with China’s dominance in battery assembly and resource refining. According to a Reuters report this past Friday, Biden’s plan targets a boost to battery recycling to walk a fine line between helping the environment and increasing competitiveness.

Reuters reported on various government reports submitted to the White House as a 100-day review of important supply chains wraps up. This review is mostly meant to address the constricted supply of semiconductor chips. The chip shortage continues to plague numerous industries, including the auto industry. However, the review extends to the EV supply chain and the government aims to position the US to better compete with China’s abilities to build batteries and to refine the materials needed to make them.

The problem is that mining and refining rare earth minerals and other materials aren’t great for the environment. While the administration hopes to rely on ally countries for the materials, this plan reportedly aims to go big on battery recycling to fill the gap. Once an EV battery reaches the end of its useful life for a car, the idea is to break down the components and recycle them to build fresh batteries in the US for new vehicles. 

With a circular supply of lithium, there’d be less of a need to mine and refine new lithium to protect the environment, the reports argue. With recycling, aggressive programs could cut the need for new raw materials such as copper (by 55%), lithium (by 25%), and nickel and cobalt (by 35%), the government reports said. Without recycling, the US may face 8 million tons of battery scrap dumped in landfills by 2040.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment, but Reuters reported parts of the plans may become public this week.