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A New Era in Battery Recycling: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's $125 Million Pledge

By Ryan Alcorn & Justin Taylor // June 13, 2023



In a significant push to promote sustainable battery recycling practices as consumer electronics become ubiquitous in American society, the U.S. Department of Energy has launched a $125 million initiative to revolutionize the way Americans recycle batteries from consumer electronics. The funding, backed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), will support projects that expand consumer participation in battery recycling programs, reduce the cost of recycling consumer electronics batteries, develop state and local programs for battery collection, recycling, and reprocessing, and establish retailer programs for battery collection and transport. This funding opportunity aligns with the larger national ambition to establish a clean, equitable energy economy and achieve a zero-carbon electricity system by 2035.


Who Should Apply?


The opportunity is open to a broad range of applicants. Eligible applicants include domestic entities such as institutions of higher education, for-profit and non-profit organizations, and state, local, and tribal government entities. Under certain conditions, foreign entities may apply with a written waiver request. Specific federal research agencies and instrumentalities can apply for funding as prime recipients or sub-recipients. However, entities prohibited from doing business with the U.S. government are not eligible.


The funding will be distributed through four topic areas:



Topic 1: Expanding Consumer Participation in Battery Recycling Programs


Recognizing that consumer participation is the backbone of any successful recycling initiative, the first topic area centers on the development of educational campaigns to demystify battery recycling. The campaigns aim to address and overcome common barriers to recycling participation, such as a lack of awareness about recycling programs, misconceptions about data privacy, and the perceived effort involved in recycling.


The overarching goal is to ensure consumers understand the importance and logistics of recycling batteries, especially given that these discarded devices can be an abundant source of precious metals like cobalt. For instance, 166 cell phone batteries can provide enough cobalt to produce an EV battery, and consumer electronics are expected to be the primary source of recycled cobalt until 2035.

Grantees are required to provide an outreach plan detailing how the information will be disseminated and quarterly reports to track progress. The goal is to achieve the DOE's objective of a 90% recycling rate for consumer electronics batteries by 2030.


The funding anticipates awarding between 4 to 15 projects. With a minimum projected award size of $1.3 million and a maximum of $5 million, this topic area has a total of $20 million in federal funding. The project duration is expected to span 24 to 36 months.


Topic 2: Reducing the Cost of Recycling Consumer Electronics Batteries


The second topic area charges into the economic challenges of recycling, from the collection, transportation, storage, and dismantling of End-Of-Life (EOL) batteries. The goal here is to find innovative approaches that reduce these costs and make battery recycling a more financially appealing proposition for consumers and businesses alike.


By boosting the economics of battery recycling, the U.S. can fortify its standing in the global electric drive vehicle battery manufacturing sector. The anticipated award size is between $4 and $8 million. In total, $40 million has been set aside for this category, with a performance period of 24 to 36 months.


Topic 3: State and Local Programs for Consumer Electronics Battery Collection, Recycling, and Reprocessing


Topic Area focuses on state and local governments, recognizing their pivotal role in initiating and enhancing battery recycling programs. The funding supports the development of locally focused strategies and infrastructure for the collection, recycling, and reprocessing of batteries. Success in this topic area is measured by the number of established or improved battery collection points and the quantity of materials collected.


Anticipated to fund 20 to 30 projects, the minimum award size is set at $500K and the maximum at $10 million. A total of $50 million in federal funding is available for this category, which has a performance period of 36 to 60 months.


Topic 4: Retailer Programs for Consumer Electronic Battery Collection and Transport


The fourth topic area highlights the potential role of retailers in the battery recycling ecosystem. Since retailers often serve as the final link in the consumer electronics supply chain, they are ideally placed to facilitate battery collection.


The DOE is keen to establish partnerships with retailers to simplify the collection, handling, sorting, and transportation of spent batteries and battery-containing electronics. By increasing the number of accessible collection points, we can significantly enhance the volume of batteries and electronic devices recycled.


When is the deadline?


The grant program will remain open until November 29, 2023. Aspiring applicants should take note of the following key dates:

  • Submission Deadline for Concept Papers: August 17, 2023, 5:00 PM ET

  • Anticipated Date of Concept Paper Notification: September 18, 2023

  • Submission Deadline for Full Applications: November 19, 2023, 5:00 PM ET

  • Expected Date for DOE Selection Notifications: May 2024

  • Expected Timeframe for Award Negotiations: September 2024

To learn more about the grant, potential applicants should visit the EERE Exchange.


This substantial funding opportunity signals a new era for battery recycling, offering potential applicants the chance to contribute to the country's ambitious infrastructure and environmental goals. As such, stakeholders from all sectors are encouraged to explore this opportunity and consider how they can participate in this groundbreaking initiative.

 

In the last 24 hours, the federal government has posted 21 new competitive grant opportunities worth $600 million for 201 future recipients. GrantExec tracks each grant and provides expert grant-writing services to help clients secure the right opportunities for their goals. Learn more at grantexec.com or schedule time with our team here.

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