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May 28, 2021

As Global Supply Chains Falter, King Reintroduces Bipartisan Battery Recycling Legislation to Support American Clean Energy Technology

The Battery and Critical Mineral Recycling Act of 2021 aims to decrease U.S. dependence on critical mineral imports that are crucial to clean energy technology

BRUNSWICK, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Energy and Natural Resource Committee (ENR), announced that he has introduced the Battery and Critical Mineral Recycling Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation which would incentivize the recycling of single use and rechargeable batteries, to get more use from existing materials and reduce waste, creating a circular economy for batteries. These batteries contain valuable mineral resources that are needed to meet the United States’ growing clean energy needs and decrease dependence on critical mineral imports – which has been proven to be critically important during the supply chain challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic. Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) are original cosponsors of the legislation.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has snarled supply chains across the globe, creating major challenges for a number of important technologies that help power 21st century American life,” said Senator King. “As the United States works to reduce our dependence on foreign imports of key minerals, we must ensure that we maximize the resources we already have. Minerals like lithium and cobalt – both of which are vital to clean energy technology – are abundant throughout our society in the form of old phone and computer batteries, as well as in power tools and many other common products around our homes and offices. A program incentivizing both consumers and producers to recycle these materials will strengthen our economy, support our environment, and help the United States continue to lead in the realm of clean energy.”

“With battery technology playing an increasing and significant role in electrification, there also comes a responsibility to capture and reuse critical materials to contribute to the circular economy,” said Leo Raudys, CEO & President of Call2Recycle, Inc. “We applaud Senator King for his commitment to improve the collection and recycling of lithium ion batteries.” 

“PRBA and its members appreciate Senator King’s efforts to secure federal funding that would help facilitate the safe and efficient collection of portable batteries in the U.S,” said George Kerchner, Executive Director, PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association. “In turn, this would help establish a U.S.-based supply chain of critical minerals for use in the production of high-capacity batteries and many clean energy technologies.”

“Prioritizing and utilizing alternative energy sources, including recycling, substituting and repurposing critical minerals, reduces our reliance on new extraction which in turn protects healthy habitats for hunting, angling and other recreational opportunities,” said John Simoneau, New England Chapter Secretary-Maine Chair of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “BHA thanks Sen. King and his colleagues for introducing an innovative approach to the growing demand for critical minerals.”

“Critical minerals are a pressing issue and policies like the Battery and Critical Mineral Recycling Act of 2021 will reduce the need to extract minerals from sensitive watersheds while helping secure the raw materials for a clean energy future,” said Corey Fisher, Public Lands Policy Director of Trout Unlimited. “Trout Unlimited appreciates Senator King’s work on this issue and looks forward to helping see this legislation into law.”

According to the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Interior (DOI), the U.S. relies on imports for a majority of the critical minerals necessary to sustain economic and national security. Additionally, the U.S. has developed a growing desire for clean energy technologies like wind, solar, hydrogen, and electricity systems – all of which require significant material resources sourced from critical minerals. Energy storage and electric vehicles in particular will require a growing source of lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite. Currently, a majority of these critical mineral imports are sourced from China, so strengthening battery recycling and reuse programs is a simple approach to reducing demand for these imported materials.

Specifically, Senator King’s bill:

  • Incentivizes battery and critical mineral recycling through three grant programs:
  • Research and development. Grants aim to support innovative approaches to increase the reuse and recycling of batteries by addressing recycling processes; battery design that facilitates the dismantling, reuse, and recovery of battery components and materials; strategies to increase participation in battery recycling; and the integration of increased quantities of recycled materials in batteries to aid development of markets.
  • Retail collection points. Grants to support the establishment of retail collection points to increase the acceptance and collection of used batteries for reuse, recycling, or proper disposal.
  • Federal matching funds for state and local governments. Funds would establish or enhance state battery collection, recycling, and reprocessing programs.
  • Reauthorizes the DOE’s Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize competition. The bill provides additional funding for pilot projects.
  • Directs the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide best practices. The EPA shall develop best practices for the collection of batteries that may be cost-effectively implemented by States and local governments in coordination with state and local leaders and relevant private sectors.
  • Develops a voluntary labeling program. This bill would establish a voluntary labeling program modeled after Energy Star to promote battery recycling and to identify collection points in order to reduce battery waste, improve collection, and reduce safety concerns due to improper disposal.
  • Establishes a task force on producer requirements. The bill directs the U.S. Secretary of Energy to convene a task force to develop an extended battery producer responsibility framework that suggests regulatory pathways for effective recycling and life-cycle management of battery materials.

A forceful advocate for clean energy solutions wherever they can be found, Senator King is a founding member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, and a lead sponsor on a range of bills that encourage energy efficiency and research on clean energy technologies. Senator King is the lead sponsor of the Joint Long-Term Storage Act seeks to speed up deployment of long-duration energy storage technologies through strategic collaboration between federal agencies. In the 116th Congress, Senator King cosponsored the Renewable Electricity Standard Act which would put the U.S. on a trajectory to decarbonize the power sector by 2050, and the Clean Economy Act which would address the need for bold climate action and at the same time boosts American competitiveness, promotes healthier communities and fosters a growing economy that works for everyone.

The text of the Battery and Critical Mineral Recycling Act can be found HERE, and a summary of the legislation can be found HERE.

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