Methodological Approaches to End-Of-Life Modelling in Life Cycle Assessments of Lithium-Ion Batteries
This study presents a review of how the end-of-life (EOL) stage is modelled in life cycle assessment (LCA) studies of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). Twenty-five peer-reviewed journal and conference papers that consider the whole LIB life cycle and describe their EOL modelling approach sufficiently were analyzed. The studies were categorized based on two archetypal EOL modelling approaches in LCA: The cutoff (no material recovery, possibly secondary material input) and EOL recycling (material recovery, only primary material input) approaches. It was found that 19 of the studies followed the EOL recycling approach and 6 the cutoff approach. In addition, almost a third of the studies deviated from the expected setup of the two methods by including both material recovery and secondary material input. Such hybrid approaches may lead to double counting of recycling benefits by both including secondary input (as in the cutoff approach) and substituting primary materials (as in the EOL recycling approach). If the archetypal EOL modelling approaches are not followed, it is imperative that the modelling choices are well-documented and motivated to avoid double counting that leads to over- or underestimations of the environmental impacts of LIBs. Also, 21 studies model hydrometallurgical treatment, and 17 completely omit waste collection.
life cycle assessment