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Toyota mulls hybrid battery recycling program

Keywords: Tags  toyota tsusho america, toyota, Toshiya Fukui, hybrid vehicle batteries, daniel fitzgerald

NEW YORK — Toyota Tsusho America Inc. is looking to partner with local scrap recyclers to develop a collection system for end-of-life hybrid vehicle batteries.

By Toyota Tsusho America’s count, more than 50,000 such batteries will be arriving at North American scrapyards within four years, posing a serious safety hazard if no organized collection system is in place.

"(There are) inherent risks in high-voltage batteries if they’re not handled properly," Toshiya Fukui, senior manager of the nonferrous metals department at Toyota Tsusho America, told attendees at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries annual convention and exposition in Las Vegas. "Even a dead hybrid battery may still contain 200 volts, which can cause serious injury or death. These batteries weren’t designed to be disassembled by anyone except engineers."

The company, which has operated a hybrid vehicle battery recycling program in Japan for the past 10 years, is looking to launch a similar collection system in North America.

Fukui said that the existence of such a program would help the company develop a raw material stream for batteries as well as mitigate product liability risk. He added that Toyota would consider expanding the program to include other automotive companies once the system is developed.

With just under 1.4 million Toyota hybrid vehicles sold in North America since 2000, the Georgetown, Ky.-based subsidiary of Japan’s Toyota Motor Co. estimates that more than 50,000 hybrid vehicles will be entering the recycling stream by 2016 and surpass 250,000 by 2024. Most of these vehicles will enter the recycling stream where hybrid sales are strongest: California, Texas, Florida, Arizona and Oregon.

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