Mercedes-Benz today celebrates its groundbreaking ceremony for a new battery recycling factory in Kuppenheim, Germany, cutting resource consumption and establishing closed-loop recycling of battery raw materials. The first stage of the plant – mechanical dismantling of electric vehicle batteries – is scheduled to start ramping up at the end of this year. Subject to the outcome of promising discussions with the public sector, a hydrometallurgy pilot plant will be established only a few months later. This innovative approach for an integrated recycling concept within a single factory is currently unique in Europe. Mercedes-Benz is investing a double-digit million Euro amount in the construction of the balance sheet CO2-neutral plant, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection as part of a scientific research project. This investment strengthens the role of the Kuppenheim site within the global Mercedes-Benz production network and marks a decisive step for Mercedes-Benz’s sustainable business strategy as it moves towards going “Electric Only”.
The ceremony was attended by Jörg Burzer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, responsible for Production & Supply Chain Management, and Michael Brecht, Chairman of the Works Council of the Gaggenau joint operation, to which the Kuppenheim plant belongs. Mercedes-Benz also welcomed Thekla Walker, Minister for the Environment, Climate Protection and Energy Sector Baden-Württemberg and other guests of honour to attend the ceremony.
“This foundation symbolises the decisive step towards closing the material cycle for batteries from Mercedes-Benz. With a recycling rate of more than 96 percent, a ‘mine of tomorrow’ is being created here in Kuppenheim. The innovative technology approach enables us to incorporate the valuable raw materials into new Mercedes-EQ vehicles. We are consistently expanding our expertise of the battery value chain and are taking an important step in our strategy towards ‘Electric Only’. Together with our partners from industry and science, we are demonstrating the potential of Baden-Württemberg and Germany to innovate in the area of sustainable electromobility.”
Jörg Burzer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Production and Supply Chain Management
“I am delighted that Mercedes-Benz is taking on a pioneering role with the pilot factory for battery recycling here in Kuppenheim and is consistently driving forward the topic of the circular economy. This is of particular importance in view of the limited availability of important and highly sought-after raw materials such as lithium, cobalt or nickel. Crises such as the corona pandemic or the brutal Russian war of aggression against Ukraine have clearly demonstrated our dependence on supply chains and primary raw materials. Increased recycling can help to reduce this dependence on critical raw materials and thus strengthen the resilience of the economy. In this respect, the topic of battery recycling is highly topical and also of strategic interest.”
Thekla Walker MdL, Minister for the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector Baden-Württemberg
“With the battery recycling factory, Mercedes-Benz is gathering important know-how in the field of circular economy and is also laying the foundation for new, sustainable jobs that can be further expanded if the operation is successful. In the future, the company will become less dependent on raw material supplies. I am personally particularly pleased that such an investment is being made at the Kuppenheim site and speaks for the region.”
Michael Brecht, Chairman of the Works Council of the joint operation Gaggenau, to which the Kuppenheim plant belongs
In future, the Mercedes-Benz battery recycling factory in Kuppenheim will cover every step: From dismantling at the module level, to shredding and drying and processing of battery-grade materials. The hydrometallurgy process with a recovery rate of more than 96 percent enables a true circular economy of battery materials. Mercedes-Benz is cooperating with technology partner Primobius (joint venture of the German mechanical engineering company SMS group and the Australian project developer Neometals). As part of the overarching scientific research project, the entire process of battery recycling is also taken into account: From the development of logistics concepts, through the sustainable recycling of valuable raw materials, to the reintegration of recyclates into the production of new batteries. Thus the partners are making an important contribution to the future scaling of the battery recycling industry in Germany.
The pilot plant is expected to have an annual capacity of 2,500 tonnes. The recovered materials will be fed back into the recycling loop to produce more than 50,000 battery modules for new Mercedes-Benz models. Based on the findings of the pilot factory, production volumes could be scaled up in the medium to long term.
|The most important data|
|Location||Mercedes-Benz plant Kuppenheim|
|Ramp-up mechanical dismantling||December 2023|
|Annual capacity||2.500 t|
|Batteries||Lithium-ion batteries from (plug-in) hybrids and electric vehicles|
|Origin of the batteries||Test vehicles, start-up batteries, returns of the field|
|Recovery rate||> 96 %|
|Recovered material||Battery-grade recyclate (cobalt, nickel, lithium and in future also graphite)|
|Technology partner||Primobius GmbH|
|Scientific Partners||Karlsruhe Institute of Technology|
Technical University of Berlin
Technical University of Berlin
Holistic approach to battery value creation
Mercedes-Benz is taking a holistic approach to the circular economy of battery systems, looking at three core issues: Circular design, value retention and closing the loop. During the development of a vehicle, the company creates a concept for each vehicle model in which all components and materials are analyzed for their suitability in the context of a circular economy. Material recycling of the raw materials used, such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, is an integral part of this approach, and also begins with the design of the components. This approach covers the entire supply chain from mining to recycling. A high level of attention is also paid to the observance of human rights in the working conditions of employees. Mercedes-Benz offers reconditioned batteries as replacement parts for all electric vehicles, in order to comply with the idea of a closed economic loop and to conserve resources. In addition, Mercedes-Benz has established a successful business model with stationary large-scale energy storages through its subsidiary Mercedes-Benz Energy. Batteries that can no longer be used in vehicles can continue to be used in a 2nd-life storage system. Material recycling is at the end of a battery’s life, and is the key to closing the loop of recyclable materials.