Efficient, powerful - and now even circular: STILL makes lithium-ion technology even more fit for the future

Recycling lithium-ion batteries

Hamburg, 01 February 2024 - STILL is closing the recycling loop for lithium-ion batteries in intralogistics: the pioneering specialist for intralogistics solutions recycles the lithium-ion batteries of its trucks at the end of their life cycle at the European plant of its strategic partner Li-Cycle. Thanks to Li-Cycle's innovative recycling process, which enables up to a 95 percent recovery rate, critical materials can be retained and used to produce new battery cells. With this, STILL is leading the way in answering the question of how to deal with "end-of-life" lithium-ion batteries in the future.

At the Li-Cycle recycling plant, STILL's Lithium-ion battery modules are sorted before being transported to the shredder.

Together with fuel cell systems, lithium-ion batteries are one of the most important power sources for the intralogistics of the future - and one of the main pillars of the energy transition. For this to succeed, however, a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution is needed for the disposal and recycling of lithium-ion batteries at the end of their life cycle. While the number of lithium-ion batteries to be recycled has been small due to their longevity and the relative newness of the technology, the question of how to recycle them responsibly is an important consideration for many companies when deciding on the right energy system. As one of the first providers of intralogistics solutions, the Hamburg-based intralogistics expert STILL is now addressing this issue for its customers - and has started the environmentally friendly recycling of its lithium-ion batteries in cooperation with the Canadian recycling specialist Li-Cycle Holdings Corp ("Li-Cycle"). Li-Cycle is one of the leading specialists in the recovery of valuable resources from lithium-ion batteries and opened its first plant in Europe in Magdeburg in August 2023. The quantities have so far been modest - STILL has delivered around 150 lithium-ion batteries to the Li-Cycle plant. However, it is the perspective that is decisive: "Firstly, it is always our aim to keep batteries in use for as long as possible. With our cooperation with Li-Cycle, we already have a reliable solution for the responsible recycling of all our lithium-ion batteries that will reach the end of their service life by 2030," explains Dr Florian Heydenreich, Executive Vice President Sales & Service STILL EMEA. By successfully closing the recycling loop, STILL is ensuring the sustainability and circularity of lithium-ion technology in addition to its efficiency, performance and zero emissions. And, STILL is paving the way for sustainable, successful logistics for its customers with the integrated take-back system.

Minimum effort and maximum safety for customers

Once a lithium-ion battery has reached the end of its life cycle, STILL offers its customers safe transport to the Li-Cycle plant and ensures that it is recycled in accordance with the highest environmental standards. STILL uses various certified transport containers to transport batteries in any condition to the recycling plant in a safe and legally compliant manner. For the customer, this means maximum safety and sustainability with minimum effort. "We take responsibility for the entire life cycle of the batteries used in our vehicles," says Dr Florian Heydenreich. "By using batteries produced by the Group in Europe for our vehicles, reconditioning them during their life cycle and finally having them recycled with a recovery rate of up to 95 per cent, we meet the future requirements of the EU's Green Deal. We also offer our customers an attractive opportunity to smartly combine ecological and economic requirements for their intralogistics.”

Cooperation with Li-Cycle ensures environmentally friendly battery recycling

In a unique, environmentally friendly and efficient process, Li-Cycle is able to recover most of the valuable battery components and return them back into the supply chain. The process is based on Li-Cycle's sustainable processing technology, which prioritizes safety, has minimal landfill residues, low emissions and minimal wastewater discharge. In a first step, valuable metals such as copper, aluminum and steel are separated from the plastics in the battery. Valuable materials such as lithium carbonate, cobalt sulphate or nickel sulphate are recovered from the remaining "black mass" in a hydrometallurgical process and used to make new battery cells.

Recovering raw materials and keeping them in the European materials cycle

For the KION Group, to which STILL belongs, the sustainable recovery process was an important criterion in choosing Li-Cycle as a partner for the recycling of lithium-ion batteries. The scalability of the process and the return of valuable resources and rare metals to the material loop in Europe were also important aspects. "The partnership with Li-Cycle ensures not only the safe disposal of our lithium-ion batteries, but also the security of supply for our battery cell production and our suppliers in Europe," explains Dr Florian Heydenreich. STILL is thus making a long-term contribution to strengthening and expanding the market for lithium-ion batteries in Europe. Especially in view of the key role lithium-ion technology will play in the intralogistics of the future, this is a trend-setting investment for a successful energy transition in Europe.