In early September, several Japanese automakers jointly announced plans to launch an electric vehicle (EV) battery collection and recycling project in October. Recycling factories will be established initially in 7 prefectures in Japan.

The project was initiated by the Ministries for Economy, Trade and Industry and the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. The purpose of the project was to establish an efficient and sustainable battery recycling system, with the costs being borne by all involved parties. The Japan Auto Recycling Partnership, a Tokyo-based organisation funded by automakers, will be in charge of the operations.

Japan has introduced specific policies on EV battery recycling which, it is hoped, will help minimise the industry’s environmental impact and encourage more efficient use of battery raw materials.

The policies indicate clearly that automakers are responsible for the recycling of EV batteries. Automakers also need to bear the majority of the recycling costs, which will then reduce pressure on downstream recycling companies. This is a similar approach as in Europe.

By having automakers work together to reduce costs for battery collection and recycling, especially in regards to transportation and maintenance costs, we could see the development of an effective and efficient recycling system for scrap batteries. All EV startups and imported vehicle sellers will also be welcome to participate in the project.

In March 2018, it was reported that Japan’s first plant specialising in the recycling and reuse of lithium-Ion batteries from EVs will be opened in Namie. The plant will be operated by 4REnergy Corporation, a joint-venture between Nissan and Sumitomo. It will be built to analyse, reuse and recycle used and end-of-life battery packs from Nissan’s EVs.

Japan has also found other ways to reuse scrap batteries, including reuse in street lighting and convenience store freezers and ovens.