First national recycling guidelines debut for electric bike batteries

Morgan Tilton

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Electric bikes are ballooning in popularity and a national battery recycling program just launched.(PeopleForBikes.)

Boulder-based PeopleForBikes, a bicycling advocacy nonprofit and the bicycle industry's trade association, launched industrywide electric bike battery recycling guidelines this month.

Electric bikes (e-bikes) continue to experience a steady rise in recreation and transportation. With an estimated 12 million e-bikes to be on the ground in the United States by 2030, those used batteries need to go somewhere—they can't go in the trash or recycling bins.

In turn, PeopleForBikes collaborated with Call2Recycle, the country's largest consumer battery recycling program leader, to design the program and launch step-by-step guidelines for both e-bikers and bike retailers.

The program creates an avenue for e-bikers to easily recycle their lithium-ion batteries at end-of-life rather than putting the batteries in the landfill to prevent environmental harm.

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The Hollywood Racks Destination E Rack can carry e-bikes, which are heavier than regular bikes and surging in sales nationwide.(Photo provided by Hollywood Racks.)

E-bike sales surge catalyzes battery recycling program

The sales of e-bikes surged 39% year-over-year in 2021, reaching a value of $770 million, reports NPD Group. The e-bike category experienced similar growth the year prior.

In contrast, the sales of mountain, road, and children's bike categories saw a slight dip. (NPD notes that some bike categories did not have adequate inventory to meet the existing demand, which likely influenced those sales dips.)

"E-bikes are increasing in popularity, but with that popularity comes the amplified need for battery safety," said Leo Raudys, CEO of Call2Recycle, Inc, in a press release.

"Our goal with this guidance is to couple our decades of experience in safe battery management with PeopleForBikes' extensive industry knowledge to ensure everyone from riders to retailers can safely enjoy all that e-bikes have to offer," added Raudys.

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Various e-bikes exist including mountain, road, and cruiser bikes, which the new Destination E bike rack can carry.(Photo provided by Hollywood Racks.)

New nationwide e-bike battery recycling guidelines

PeopleForBikes endorsed the new industry guidelines for e-bike battery recycling for both e-bikers and bike retailers.

More than 40 bike industry leaders from 20 PeopleForBikes member companies collaborated to create an electric bicycle committee that designed the voluntary program.

One set of guidelines covers how bicyclists can safely maintain, handle, and recycle their e-bike batteries: a lithium-ion rechargeable battery greater than 300 watt-hours (WH).

The second set of guidelines outlines how bike retailers can securely charge, store, and transport e-bike batteries, especially regarding managing a rental fleet and having many bikes on-site in a retail store. Collect and transport e-bike batteries for recycling.

E-bike retailers can register to become an e-battery collection site through the free-of-charge Call2Recycle program launched in November 2021. Once registered, retailers receive safe battery handling and preparation training and recycling kits for end-of-life, damaged, or defective batteries to help transport the toxic used goods.

Close to 1,200 locations have completed the required safety training to serve as a collection site (1,500 retailers enrolled).

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The batteries of electric bikes, also known as e-bikes, can now be recycled through certified retailers.(PeopleForBikes.)

How e-bikers can recycle their batteries

The new guideline feature best practices for charging e-bike batteries. For instance, you should only plug your e-bike battery directly into a wall outlet—never use power strips or extension cords.

The guidelines also include storage safety tips. E-bike batteries should be kept in a well-ventilated area with a fire detection system and away from entry and exit doors.

The instructional guide also covers modifying e-bike batteries and how to identify and handle a damaged or recalled battery.

So far, 31 retailers are certified to collect and safely recycle e-bike batteries within 50 miles of the Mile High City.

Bikers can use the online Call2Recycle locator tool to find an e-bike battery collection site.

"Bicycle industry leaders deeply understand the importance of responsible battery charging and storage…. We look forward to rolling out the electric bicycle battery recycling program to all Americans later this year," said Dr. Ash Lovell, electric bicycle policy and campaign director at PeopleForBikes, in a press release.

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Adventure journalist Morgan Tilton covers the outdoors with a focus on travel, industry news and human endurance. Featured in more than 70 publications, she’s a recipient of more than a dozen North American Travel Journalists Association awards.

Crested Butte, CO
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