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> Looking from the outside it looks like both options honestly may pollute or have the same environmental impact long-term.

Not sure how you come to that conclusion. Lithium is not a fuel that is consumed in the process. It is a recyclable component. And there is no dangerous imbalance in the global lithium cycle. Which can't be said about the carbon cycle.

Just because every technology entails some environmental impact does not not mean all impacts are the same.




>It is a recyclable component.

In theory, batteries are not currently recycled in any scale equivalent to these proposals. Plastic is also recyclable but most of it ends up in landfills due to it being uneconomical.


We also tend to put plastic into contact with food and small packaging, create many different types and form factors, and ship it consumers. I imagine the recycling problem for a known environment (e.g. a power facility's used batteries) vs an unknown environment (e.g. consumer houses) is significantly different.

I do wonder (and a quick google search didn't turn much up) how the rates of industrial plastic recycling compare with consumer rates.


Time will tell. Right now no industrial-scale deployments have reached EoL, so it's not surprising that there's little recycling. Plus those things also contain cobalt, which is significantly more expensive, plastic doesn't have that incentive.


No cobalt in the new dry battery tech they got from the Maxwell acquisition.

I hope Tesla has a plan for recycling the batteries they manufacture


Tesla is already recycling batteries at Gigafactory 1.

https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1122631_tesla-launches-...


Lead acid batteries, a mature battery technology, have a 99% recycling rate in the USA [1] (and similar rates in other developed economies).

[1] https://www.recyclingtoday.com/article/battery-council-inter...


>batteries are not currently recycled in any scale equivalent to these proposals

They're already recycled at >50% https://www.pv-magazine.com/2019/07/12/lithium-ion-recycling... although there's still no need to recycle them in volume (since we are only starting to deploy Li-Ion batteries for EV and stationary storage, which last for more than a decade)


> [Lithium] is a recyclable component.

But lithium is only 5%* of the value of a battery, so it's the other 95% of the impact of battery production that matters.

* the market for mined lithium raw material may be worth $20 billion, compared with $43 billion for refined products and $424 billion for battery cells - https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-28/the-lithi...


> And there is no dangerous imbalance in the global lithium cycle

Interesting, I had never thought of a "global lithium cycle" before – can you elaborate?


That was facetious to contrast a rather important thing to something of little significance. Some processes must obviously enrich lithium over geological timescales, otherwise we couldn't mine it, but to my knowledge it's not important to the biosphere as a whole.


Pretty sure they’re not assuming they are the same, but are curious to know how similar they actually are.

In other words, does Tesla saying they’re the better option than gas make it so?




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