The Circle of Battery-Life
The more hybrid cars and battery electric cars are on the road, the more battery pack we'll eventually have to deal with. It's still a better problem to have than to have to deal with vehicles that burn significantly more non-renewable fossil fuels, with the waste products going straight in the atmosphere. At least the batteries are recycled, and consumers are being paid for their old batteries (which usually can still hold a lot of charge, so some might be used for other things before final recycling). But so far recycled batteries weren't always turned into new battery. That might change in the future...
Toyota Motor Corporation, along with Toyota Chemical Engineering, Sumitomo Metal Mining, and Primearth EV Energy, have partnered to recycle nickel in used hybrid-vehicle nickel-metal-hydride batteries for use in new nickel-metal-hydride batteries. The new facilities are only in Japan for now.
"Previously, nickel-metal-hydride batteries recovered by car dealers and vehicle dismantling businesses were subjected to reduction treatment, and scrap containing nickel was recycled as a raw material for stainless-steel manufacturing. Now, with the development of high-precision nickel sorting and extraction technology, materials can be introduced directly into the nickel-refining process, thus achieving 'battery-to-battery' recycling." (source)
I'm hoping that the same will be done with lithium-ion batteries, which will no doubt be more popular than NiMH batteries in the near-future. Li-ion batteries are already being recycled, but it would be great if they were turned directly into new batteries using processes that are as green and energy-efficient as possible.
I also encourage Toyota to bring this process to other markets where they sell lots of hybrids (North-America, Europe) as soon as possible.
Via Toyota, GCC
More on Hybrid Cars
Nissan Launches the Fuga Hybrid in Japan (Coming to US as an Infiniti in 2011)
Volvo to Make Plug-In Diesel Hybrid Based on V60 Wagon in 2012
2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid to be Eligible for $1,300 Tax Credit