Battery-makers are powering a circular economy (The Economist – October 27, 2022)

“Gigafactories” are being designed to recycle raw materials

Manufacturing is a one-way business. Raw materials go into a factory and finished products come out. Once those goods are sold, producers (initial guarantees apart) usually wash their hands of them. Certainly they do not worry, unless compelled to by law, about how the products are disposed of.

Most are burnt or rot in landfill, which pollutes the planet. In only 50 years the world’s consumption of raw materials has nearly quadrupled, to more than 100bn tonnes, according to the latest Circularity Gap Report from the World Economic Forum. Less than 9% of this is reused, resulting in a big waste of materials.

Industry does talk about sustainability and recycling, but much of that is greenwashing intended to improve brand images. Yet in the circular economy the bottom line, too, can benefit from greenery.

This is especially so in the case of “gigafactories”, so called because their output of batteries for electric vehicles (evs) is measured in gigawatt hours (gwh). Every carmaking country wants gigafactories.

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