WIXOM, Mich. — Cirba Solutions, a new battery recycler formed from companies with decades of industry experience, plans to expand its electric vehicle battery recycling business sevenfold in the next few years.
The key to Cirba Solutions’ future are its regional facilities.
“The name of the game is to make sure we’ve got locations where we can place materials close to our customers, and also sell that material back close to where the customers are going to be building new batteries for the industry,” said the CEO David Klanecky on a tour of the Cirba Solutions plant here.
The company now has six plants, but that will nearly double in the next five years. Cirba Solutions has plants in Wixom, Mich., near Detroit; Anaheim, Calif.; Mesa, Ariz.; British Columbia in Canada; and Lancaster and Baltimore in Ohio, both near Columbus. A seventh facility, its flagship, near Columbia, SC, is slated to open next year.
A small player in the battery recycling sphere, Cirba Solutions is leaning on longstanding relationships with automakers, battery manufacturers, cathode producers and others as it faces competition from prominent battery recycling companies.
Cirba Solutions plans to invest more than $1 billion in the battery recycling and materials business in the next decade, Klanecky said. Its employee count — about 300 — is set to double in the next two years.
Regional centers empower the company to offer multiple collection points and to reduce carbon emissions. When Cirba Solutions gets a call to pick up batteries, a representative can travel almost anywhere in the continental US within 48 hours, said Klanecky.
“That’s a massive competitive advantage,” he said. “No one else can do that in the industry.”
The company formed from a series of mergers of three companies: Heritage Battery Recycling, which specialized in battery and materials processing innovation; Retriev Technologies, which is specialized in battery materials processing; and Battery Solutions, which is specialized in battery collection, logistics and services. Heritage Battery Recycling and Retriev Technologies merged in 2021 and acquired Battery Solutions last year. The combined entity was branded Cirba Solutions in 2022.
Today, Cirba Solutions markets itself as the most comprehensive battery materials and management company for end-of-life batteries and gigafactory scrap.
But analysts say Cirba Solutions will likely face challenges from competitors that have existing partnerships with major automakers.
“There is a place for smaller-scale players in this landscape, but they would have a tough time competing with the likes of Li-Cycle and Redwood Materials,” said Prabhakar Patil, former CEO of LG Chem Power who now advises battery companies.
As EV sales continue to scale, one of Cirba Solutions’ strengths is battery collection in the consumer electronics market, Patil said.
The company uses metals from phones, laptops and even hearing aids to develop materials for batteries, Cirba Solutions said.