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Most of India’s 50,000 tons of toxic battery waste is recycled by this company

With lithium-ion batteries, an Indian company is changing the future of recycling. After a device’s life cycle ends, lithium-ion batteries are considered hazardous waste materials, making recycling them extremely difficult. Attero Recycling aims to change that. Founded in 2007 by Nitin and Rohan Gupta, Attero was conceptualized when Rohan wanted to dispose of one of his old laptops, according to CEO & co-founder Nitin Gupta. Due to a lack of options, the Guptas took matters into their own hands, founding Attero Recycling.

‘The amount of energy involved to extract one gram of any metal using Attero’s recycling process is significantly lower than the amount of energy required in extracting the same metal from either a virgin mine or from any other secondary source of that material,’ Nitin Gupta told us over e-mail.

Lithium-ion batteries
As India’s largest electronic asset management company, Attero is also the only company in the world that gets carbon credits per tonne of electronic waste it recycles in line with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. A total of $100 billion has been invested in lithium-ion batteries due to their superiority. Lithium-ion batteries are preferred by developers because they offer longer run times with no performance degradation as the battery discharges. Moreover, lithium-ion batteries offer dense energy storage, increased efficiency, and the fastest charging time. Due to the way these materials are mined, about 30% of lithium-ion batteries are dependent on materials like cobalt and lithium that pose social and environmental challenges.

According to Gupta, over 50,000 tonnes of li-ion battery waste is generated in India alone each year. To address this, the company is ramping up its capacity to 11,000 metric tonnes by October 2022 through a ‘franchise route’. Attero also plans to expand its presence in 14 new markets by the end of this year. By establishing these plants across the country, Attero will increase its capacity to manage 3,000,000 metric tons of E-Waste annually.

Attero, what’s different?
Attero’s ‘CLEAN e-INDIA’ initiative involves state authorities, think tanks, and the informal sector to combat e-waste. A program for taking back e-waste from consumers, CLEAN e-INDIA streamlines the recycling process by connecting ‘stakeholders across the value chain, including individuals, waste pickers, and aggregators’. Due to the mammoth waste generated by electronic devices, most big companies such as Apple and Samsung encourage users to return their devices to the company for recycling and reuse in their future products. It turns out that they could end up at Attero Recycling.

Approximately 30% of the value of li-ion batteries comes from the metals that make them. Gupta believes that India’s true dream of self-dependence is achievable by recycling batters since it lacks the reserves of cobalt and lithium. With growing interest in electric vehicles, India could see its EV revolution soon. As a consequence of this inevitable reality, ‘Li-ion battery waste is expected to grow by 40-80% annually’. The company has partnered with a variety of automobile and electronic OEMs to collect end-of-life Li-Ion batteries and recycle them in a sustainable manner. Attero Recycling hopes to help India manage the growing Li-Ion battery waste and transition to a circular economy.

 Li-ion alternatives
Globally, Gupta correctly pointed out, scientists are in the process of looking for alternatives to lithium-ion batteries. ‘A promising class of batteries based on sodium and potassium ions offer new options, especially for uses that do not require a lot of power. Other possibilities include calcium and hydrogen-based batteries, plastic lithium-ion batteries, and graphene aluminum-ion batteries. However, these other batteries have multiple safety and longevity issues that limit their commercial adoption’.

With a whopping $100 billion investment in the lithium-ion ecosystem, batteries are ‘ubiquitous, whether it’s consumer electronics such as cell phones and laptops, or stationary storage, such as telecom towers, solar panels, etc. and even electric vehicles, such as two-wheelers, three-wheelers, four-wheelers and even buses and trucks’.

According to Nitin Gupta, CEO and Co-Founder of Attero, the company has recycled more than 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon by recycling lithium-ion batteries. Attero claims to recycle 30 grams of batteries from phones and up to 750 kilograms from electric buses. In addition, Attero offers a 360-degree nationwide recycling program for electronic assets like smartphones. Attero is also collaborating with automobile industry players to reduce carbon footprint nationwide in order to expand its reach.



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