Two solutions for sustainable batteries in the mail order business – eCommerce Magazin

When I think of sustainability, I think of that German sustainability award. In online trading, the signs are pointing to green – hardly any other industry relies so consistently on electrical energy as e-commerce. Especially when it comes to logistics, the last mile and same day delivery. But what happens when the battery life is at the end? That’s why I took a closer look at the nominees for the German Sustainability Award 2021 and came across the two companies High Performance Battery and Primobius.

I have to deal with a lot of press and company reports every day. When it comes to sustainability, companies are really crazy. Some want to revolutionize logistics. With smart robots that pick faster than any employee and immediately process the next order in passing. Or with mobile hand scanners, which also make fulfillment easier and, above all, faster. Of course, digitally controlled means that employees have time to concentrate on the essentials.

The green last mile

Others, on the other hand, want to make another big problem child in e-commerce environmentally friendly and sustainable: the last mile should also be green. With green electricity from the socket. The juice ends up in e-vans, e-bikes or other e-vehicles that many start-ups invent.

It feels like almost every parcel and goods delivery service never tires of informing the public that the fleet of e-vans has now been increased again. And so and so many e-cargo bikes, of course electrically powered, are now on their way to the customer for the last few kilometers. All of these sustainable efforts have one thing in common: They all rely on batteries. Of course, without these practical energy storage devices, mobility would quickly disappear, in both vertical and public areas.

Electric – the new green?

However, it takes a lot of batteries to satisfy the hunger for mobility in e-commerce. Ideally, the storage batteries can be charged quickly and have a long runtime. Especially for the sometimes essential segments of e-commerce, such as logistics, the last mile or now also the same-day delivery industry – the faster the better. The problem with this is that batteries can be charged quickly. However, every quick charge process costs the battery a piece of its life. The rule is: the faster, the faster it slacks. When the battery is exhausted, it must be replaced with a new one. So far so good – just not. What happens to the old battery? Recycling? The e-car manufacturers should already have a plan in their drawer, right? No, even Tesla still has nothing to offer.

The challenge of battery recycling

A conventional lithium-ion battery consists of cobalt, lithium, nickel, manganese and graphite, as well as rare earths. Batteries for electric motors, for example, cannot do without them. Well, you will say – these are only small amounts that are used there. That’s right – small amounts per device. However, if you add up how many devices there are batteries in, you will quickly start pondering.

If you then take into account the fact that the service life of each battery is reduced with each charging process, it is clear that solutions are needed for this problem. Fortunately, there are competitions like the German Sustainability Award, which puts hidden ideas in the spotlight. And it looks like it will succeed this year too.

German Sustainability Award 2021

Since 2008, the initiators of the German Sustainability Award have been putting sustainable solutions from companies to the test. They are divided into categories such as climate, resources, biodiversity, society, but also the supply chain. So will I find answers to the problem of old batteries among this year’s nominees?

Direct hit: Two companies catch my eye when I look at this year’s list of nominees. Primobius and High Performance Battery. While the joint venture from the Australian company Neometals Ltd. and the German SMS Group focused on recycling batteries, High Performance Battery takes a different approach. The company has developed a battery that is environmentally friendly due to its design.

German Sustainability Award 2021: Recycling of lithium-ion batteries

The Primobius joint venture between the project development company Neometals and the SMS Group from the plant and mechanical engineering sector, on the other hand, has set itself the goal of recycling lithium-ion batteries and recovering valuable materials from old batteries. The recycling technology is to be commercialized in order to be able to recycle the rapidly growing number of old batteries in an environmentally friendly manner. Recovering valuable materials from old batteries in a sustainable way not only solves one of the big problems that increasing electrification brings with it. Rather, the company closes a large gap in the value chain that arises in the production of lithium-ion batteries.

German Sustainability Award 2021: Sustainable battery

High Performance Battery, on the other hand, starts one step beforehand: The company develops solid state batteries that are not only long-lasting and can be charged quickly. The battery storage systems also manage without critical raw materials. Expressed in numbers, this means that while lithium-ion batteries can be charged around 3,000 times, a solid-state battery can be charged around 100,000 times. In addition, it works without environmentally critical raw materials such as cobalt. Is practically non-flammable and has a low risk of explosion. The cost balance of the solid-state battery from High Performance Battery is also impressive: it is less than one cent per kWh. Lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, cost ten cents kWh. These properties as well as the optimized design ensure a positive climate balance of 50 percent fewer emissions compared to conventional batteries.

With their technologies, Primobius and High Performance Battery impressively demonstrate how sustainability works. So there are no longer any excuses for not acting sustainably. It depends on the innovative strength and the courage to leave the well-trodden paths.

Anyone looking for answers to today’s problems should keep an eye on the German Sustainability Award 2021 and the nominees. They demonstrate how real sustainability comes to life with clever solutions.

Also read: Sustainability in e-commerce – How retailers can protect the climate with a plugin.

German Sustainability Award 2021
Image: Celine Le Ruyet

The author Christiane Manow-Le Ruyet is editor-in-chief of e-commerce magazine.