Debunking Myths: The Environmental and Human Impact of Electric Vehicle Batteries

by AutoExpert   |  4 December, 2023

Share :

In a world rapidly transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs), there's growing concern about the environmental and ethical implications of mining for battery minerals. In our EV mythbusters series, we delve into these concerns, distinguishing fact from fiction and exploring the complexities of EV production.

The Mining Challenge

The quest for EV battery minerals, such as lithium, nickel, and copper, is intensifying, leading to significant environmental changes in mining regions like Chile, the Australian outback, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Critics, like Nigel Farage, highlight the "nasty secret" of EVs, pointing to the environmental strain caused by mining. Furthermore, reports from Amnesty International reveal disturbing instances of child labor and exploitation in cobalt mines in the DRC.

 Impact of Electric Vehicle Batteries

The Reality of Mineral Demand

The International Energy Agency notes that EVs require more minerals (173kg more) compared to petrol cars, excluding steel and aluminum. Global demand for lithium is predicted to quadruple by 2030. However, when oil is considered, the overall mineral usage for EVs is significantly lower than for petrol and diesel vehicles. Transport & Environment (T&E) found that a petrol car burns around 17,000 liters of oil – about 12.5 tonnes – in its lifetime.

 Impact of Electric Vehicle Batteries

Recycling: A Game Changer

A critical aspect often overlooked in the debate is the potential for battery material recycling. The majority of battery materials used in cars are expected to be recycled, significantly reducing waste compared to fossil fuels. David Bott from the Society of Chemical Industry estimates that 80-90% of the metals can be reused. T&E suggests that after recycling, battery material waste over an EV’s life will be about the size of a football, or 30kg, by 2030.

Comparing EVs and Fossil Fuels

Julia Poliscanova from T&E points out that while the need for critical minerals is substantial, it pales in comparison to the 15 billion tonnes of fossil fuels used annually. Auke Hoekstra from Eindhoven University of Technology adds context, noting that less than 0.01% of the Earth's habitable land is used for battery minerals mining, dwarfed by the extraction of iron ore and oil.

 Impact of Electric Vehicle Batteries

Addressing Human Rights Concerns

While there are undeniable human rights issues within the mining industry, these are not unique to EV batteries. Mark Dummett from Amnesty International emphasizes that such problems have always existed in mining and are often amplified by opponents of the energy transition.

 Impact of Electric Vehicle Batteries

The Verdict

The evidence suggests that the resource extraction for EVs will be significantly lower compared to traditional vehicles as recycling becomes more prevalent. However, the industry must still address human rights concerns within the supply chain. The transition to EVs offers an opportunity for mining industry reforms, balancing environmental sustainability with ethical practices.

Recomended:

Jump-Starting Your Car: When and How to Use Jumper Leads Effectively - Photo
Tips & Tricks
Jump-Starting Your Car: When and How to Use Jumper Leads Effectively

Ever been in thаt frustrаting situаtion where you turn your key or press the stаrt button, and... nothing hаppens? No lights, no rаdio, no engine noise. It's а total bummer. Your first instinct mi

AutoExpert
Is the Dodge Journey the Right Used Car for You? Unpacking the Pros and Cons - Photo
Others
Is the Dodge Journey the Right Used Car for You? Unpacking the Pros and Cons

Okаy, so you're thinking аbout getting a used Dodge Journey, huh? Well, let's brаak it down. This big fellа used to be a pretty popular choice for fаmilies and folks who needed something roomy

AutoExpert
Top 5 Must-Visit Off-Road Trails in the U.S. for Every Skill Level - Photo
Tips & Tricks
Top 5 Must-Visit Off-Road Trails in the U.S. for Every Skill Level

If you're into off-roading, the U.S. is a plаyground with trаils ranging from sаndy dunes to rugged mountаins. Whether you're just stаrting out or you're a seаsoned pro, these five trаils

AutoExpert
Car-Inspired Baby Names: Trends in the US, UK, and Australia - Photo
Others
Car-Inspired Baby Names: Trends in the US, UK, and Australia

Ever wonder where parents get their baby name ideas? Well, a recent study shows that many modern parents in the US and UK are still turning to car brands for inspiration when naming their kids.By

AutoExpert
Quick and Easy Car Cleaning: 5 Must-Have Products for a Showroom Shine - Photo
Tips & Tricks
Quick and Easy Car Cleaning: 5 Must-Have Products for a Showroom Shine

Let's be real, washing your car feels more like a chore than a joyride. Some folks are obsessed with the drive-thru car wash swirl, while others achieve car-spa nirvana with hand washing and enoug

AutoExpert
Behind the Scenes: The Rigorous World of Car Durability Testing - Photo
Others
Behind the Scenes: The Rigorous World of Car Durability Testing

Let's face it, our roads can be rough. Potholes the size of craters, endless stretches of highway, and enough hills to make your engine whimper. But how do cars survive all that punishment? The an

AutoExpert
Unveiling the Thrill: The Engineering Marvel of Funny Cars - Photo
Others
Unveiling the Thrill: The Engineering Marvel of Funny Cars

Let's face it, funny cars are awesome. They're loud, they're fast, and they look, well, funny! But have you ever stopped to wonder what's actually going on under that wild paint job (o

AutoExpert
Prepare Your Car for Summer: Essential Suspension Check Tips - Photo
Tips & Tricks
Prepare Your Car for Summer: Essential Suspension Check Tips

Alright, summer road trip warriors! Sunshine, good tunes, open roаd – sounds epic, right? But before you pile in the car with your snаcks and plаylists, let's make sure your ride isn't a

AutoExpert
2025 Kia Bongo Gets A Major Upgrade With New Features And Enhanced Comfort - Photo
Car News
2025 Kia Bongo Gets A Major Upgrade With New Features And Enhanced Comfort

Although it has been on the market since 1980, Kia's less-than-popular Bongo truck is finally receiving some love from the Korean automaker. More features, like cruise control and power folding mi

AutoExpert
New Pop-Up Roof Turns Suzuki Jimny Into The Ultimate Camper - Photo
Car News
New Pop-Up Roof Turns Suzuki Jimny Into The Ultimate Camper

The Japanese company White House Camper has just added a pop-up top to the off-road Suzuki Jimny, which is based on the larger five-door bodystyle. White House Camper unveiled the concept in blueprint

AutoExpert