It may be environmentally useful to shift to electric mobility. But with estimates putting the lithium-ion battery waste generated by Delhi’s prospective electric bus fleet of 1,400 alone at 21,000 tonnes in six years, the state government will have to pay extra attention to finding a mechanism for their safe disposal.
The estimate of the colossal battery waste generated is contained in a study conducted by the waste management NGO Chintan. Its report says, “If Delhi-NCR sees an influx of 1,400 electric buses between 2021 and 2022, then by the end of approximately seven years, there can be 1,400 used battery packs that either need to be recycled or put to second life uses.” Each battery will weigh around 1,500 kg. Unlike lead acid batteries, the lithium-ion battery used by electric vehicles is a single with multiple cells.
Bharati Chaturvedi, director, Chintan, said, “It’s not good enough to say that a plan will gradually come up. We need to ensure there is a mechanism for their safe recycling and for their storage. Otherwise, switching to e-vehicles with poor battery management and handling will lessen the positive effects of such a switch.”
In November 2018, Delhi government launched the Delhi Electric Vehicle Policy, 2020, aimed at reducing the city’s pollution levels by bringing down vehicle emissions and targeted a 25% registration of electric vehicles among all new vehicles by 2024. This policy incentivises the use of electric vehicles, including waiver of road tax and registration fees.