What is the social and environmental impact of the battery in your EV?

08 March 2022

Electric vehicles (EVs) are proven to be a more sustainable transport option than conventional vehicles powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE). However, not all EV batteries offer the same level of sustainability, which is why it’s important to know the environmental and social pros and cons of each type of EV battery.


There are three main battery types used for EVs. Let’s take a look at each.

Lead-acid batteries

There is one major advantage of lead-acid batteries: they are cheap. However, this is vastly outweighed by the disadvantages. Lead is a heavy metal which is potentially dangerous to human health, with negative health effects from lead exposure being noted during the mining and processing of lead.

Recycling lead is also potentially dangerous, being linked to environmental contamination and human exposure in countries with varying levels of regulations. For example, a battery recycling plant in California, USA, failed to meet emission controls and waste management standards, leading to as many as 10,000 homes being contaminated with lead from the plant. And contamination from lead-acid battery recycling has resulted in negative health effects, possibly including child fatalities, in Dominican Republic, Senegal, and Vietnam.

It should be noted that while there are risks for lead contamination from the recycling process, the risks for a lead-acid battery being placed in a landfill are much larger.

Lithium-ion batteries

Lithium and cobalt are needed to make lightweight, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for EVs. Unfortunately, the mining of both elements is causing ecological and social issues in different parts of the world.

60% of the world’s supply of cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where children as young as seven work in the many unregulated mines across the country. In many places, the miners either die from fatal lung diseases from breathing in the cobalt-laden dust or while working in unsupported tunnels that collapse. Plus, local communities are affected by the devasted landscapes, water pollution, contaminated crops, and a loss of soil fertility.

Lithium mining also has a negative environmental impact. The main lithium suppliers, Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, use vast quantities of water from underground sources to extract the lithium, resulting in the lowering of ground water levels and the spread of deserts.

One potential solution is to gather these resources from the ocean floor, where the International Seabed Authority states that some deposits contain millions of tonnes of cobalt and other metals. However, experts are uncertain about the impact of gathering materials from these biodiverse areas.

Lithium-iron phosphate batteries

While lithium-iron phosphate batteries contain lithium, like lithium-ion batteries, their overall environmental and social impact is more positive than both lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. They also deliver outstanding performance for users, with experts rating them as the safest, most stable, and most reliable lithium battery available on the market today.

From an environmental perspective, lithium-iron phosphate batteries are eco-friendly as they don’t leak and are non-toxic. They are also long-lasting, frequently handling over 5,000 charging cycles, which is four times more than a lithium-ion battery and 15 times more than a lead-acid battery. Plus, it can reach 100% depth of discharge (DOD), so you can completely discharge your battery without worry.

Another major advantage of lithium-ion batteries is their light weight, which means more range and more maneuverability for your EV.

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Looking to the future

EVs are the future of mobility, so it’s important to make the right decisions from the start. And this includes selecting the right battery. All Addax EVs run on lithium-iron phosphate batteries, maximizing the environmental and social benefits of driving electric for your fleet. We also continue to monitor the situation and investigate potentially more sustainable battery types.

Contact Addax to learn more about the importance of the right battery for your EV and discover the benefits for your fleet.