Redwood Materials, the lithium-ion battery recycling startup founded by former Tesla CTO JB Straubel, is partnering with Toyota to collect, refurbish and recycle batteries and battery materials that can be sent to the Japanese automaker’s upcoming North Carolina battery plant. The partnership, which will only collect batteries from Toyota’s hybrid and electrified vehicles, comes as the first wave of Toyota Prius hybrids, which were released over 20 years ago, retire from the roads.

It’s also the latest in a string of partnerships between Redwood and OEMs, including Proterra, Ford, Volvo and Panasonic, which is supplying batteries to Tesla’s Nevada gigafactory. With the coming electric vehicle takeover, demand for battery materials, particularly ones that are produced regionally, is skyrocketing. By partnering with Toyota and other automakers, Redwood hopes to create a circular supply chain for EV batteries in the United States that will eventually reduce the cost of batteries and offset the need for mining precious metals.

Initially, Redwood will focus on screening the health of Toyota car batteries and assessing the possibility of refurbishment so they can go into, and extend the life of, existing cars when possible, according to Alexis Georgeson, vice president of communications and government relations at Redwood. In cases where that’s not an option, Redwood will recycle the batteries, pulling out materials like copper, lithium, cobalt and nickel. The company will then remanufacture those materials into anode copper foils and cathodes — the two main components of a battery that make up about 65% of the cost, according to Georgeson — which can be returned to Toyota for cell manufacturing.

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Author: Rebecca Bellan, Tech Crunch
Image: Redwood Materials