Recycling and Demanufacturing of Electric Bikes

What about demanufacturing and recycling of electric bikes.

Electric bike sales have been increasing since 2017, with double digit growth and a top sale of 1.2 million units in the three main countries alone – Germany, France and Hollands. It comes as no surprise that the e-bike motor market is estimated to reach a total value of 8.5 billion USD by 2025 growing at about 6% annually.  Limited thought has gone into the processing of scrap electric bikes.

Demanufacturing and recovery of the raw materials such as copper, silver, gold, lithium and cobalt from the e-bike sub-systems – battery, electric motor and control unit – here are some of the issues the electric bike parts suppliers are facing:

  • How to hedge against raw material price fluctuations?
  • How to ensure supplies of raw materials?
  • How to create unique USP’s in an increasingly commoditised market?

Until recently however, demanufacturing and material recovery has relied on manual labour, and so is not economically viable in the developed world. Robotic disassembly lines can resolve theseproblems.

Apple thinks demanufacturing is viable

Apple has already invested into automated demanufacturing of iPhones. The robotic system, Liam, has been able to break one iPhone 6 every 11 seconds into eight distinct waste portions. This is economically viable and also enables the recovery of valuable materials that traditional recyclers can’t recover . Daisy – the latest version of the post-processing robot can  deal with an even greater array of phones. So the system can break apart up to nine different iPhone models, and up to 200 i Phones every hour. Recovering those embedded critical materials significantly reduces resource dependencies while ensuring product sustainability.

The key cornerstone in the logistics chain is however, reverse vending. Similar to the smart phone industry, electric bike sellers offer incentives such as trade-in schemes to ensure regulatory compliance. This enables a continuous stream of incoming electronic waste items to be reused.

Can the  ebike be the next fully recycled product?