Dutch company Closing the Loop (Amsterdam) has developed a pilot program to ship more than 11,000 pounds of mobile phone batteries from Nigeria to Belgium to recycle them into new products.
The program could serve as a model for mobile phone battery recycling in other African countries, the company says in a new white paper.
The paper, Making a Business Case for African Battery Recycling, describes the steps the company took to safely collect, store, and ship more than 11,000 pounds of cell phone batteries containing an estimated 2,756 pounds of cobalt, it says. The recycled materials will be sold onto the market to be used for new batteries, the report says. Closing the Loop worked with local governments, environmental service company Verde Impacto, Nigerian recycler Hinckley Group (Lagos, Nigeria), cell phone company Fairphone, and battery recycler Call2Recycle (Atlanta) on the pilot program.
Closing the Loop already collects end-of-life phones in developing countries and ships them to countries with the necessary infrastructure for recycling, but it says the potential hazards of lithium-ion batteries prevented it from including batteries in its recycling plans until the pilot program started in 2018. Though the project demonstrated that such work is possible, “the required administration and documentation …is extremely costly and complicated” to ship used li-ion batteries, the report states. It notes that agreements such as the Basel Convention, “though passed with good intentions, in this case obstruct improvements in the recycling of electronic waste from countries like Nigeria.” Visit www.closingtheloop.eu.