Former Tesla executive JB Straubel’s battery recycling venture, known as Redwood Materials, has reached an exclusive partnership with Electronic Recyclers International, also known as ERI, to recycle batteries and solar panels. The recycling of solar panels has not yet been tackled by Redwood or ERI.
ERI is North America’s largest electronics consolidator, and Redwood’s partnership will expand the venture’s recycling output. ERI will give Redwood access to the largest supply of electronic waste, activating its ability to recycle batteries into materials that can be used to build new EVs and other clean energy products.
The partnership will give JB Straubel a chair on ERI’s board, as Redwood made “a significant strategic investment in ERI,” Redwood spokespeople told Teslarati. Straubel’s main venture following his departure from Tesla was to assist in the recycling portion of the EV supply chain. It ultimately landed the company a partnership with Envision AESC, the company that manufactures cells for the Nissan Leaf and Panasonic, Tesla’s battery supplier at the Sparks, Nevada Gigafactory.
Redwood’s expansion into ERI’s e-waste will give the recycling entity access to solar panels, a new business initiative that the company has not yet been involved with. As a part of the deal, all of ERI’s solar panels will be shipped to Redwood for recycling purposes.
“Redwood is focused on steadily and relentlessly improving recycling economics with technology to reduce the cost of materials and create a circular supply chain to power a sustainable future,” Straubel said. “By partnering with ERI, we’ll be able to ensure the largest supply of e-waste batteries in the US is recycled into materials to produce new EVs and clean energy products.”
The partnership also launched a “unique, unprecedented partnership that will tackle the ‘last mile’ of electronic recycling: solar panels and batteries,” ERI’s Co-Founder and Executive Chairman John Shegerian said. “And it will be done in a radically transparent, end-to-end closed-loop manner where elements – from cobalt, nickel, copper, lithium – will be kept out of landfills, responsibly recycled, and put back into new products. We are incredibly excited to be entering into this strategic partnership with Redwood Materials.”
As demand for metals critical for EV batteries’ operation increases, recycling efforts are taking center stage. The overwhelming shift in demand for EVs is driving the cost of metals like cobalt, nickel, copper, and lithium to all-new levels. EV companies, like Tesla, are working to increase battery production both in-house and through third-party manufacturers. Elon Musk offered a “giant contract” to nickel suppliers, a request that several mining companies answered. However, there could always be more, and in the sustainable spirit of EV production, recycling is becoming a more sought-after process to obtain battery materials.
Shegerian believes the new collaboration will revolutionize the e-waste recycling industry. “The strategic partners with whom we work to achieve Circular Economy goals are not only our downstream partners, they are investors in our company and sit on our board. This is a paradigm that is unparalleled in the recycling industry throughout the world.”