SK ecoplant, in partnership with EcoPro and TES, is gearing up to establish a cutting-edge battery recycling facility in Hungary, strategically leveraging Hungary's prominence as a European Battery Production Hub. The move is strategically positioned to tap into a consistent supply of discarded batteries, given Hungary's status as a hub for global battery and electric vehicle companies.
Sources unveiled on November 19 that Park Kyung-il, President of SK ecoplant, formalized the “Hungary Battery Recycling Business Cooperation” through a memorandum of understanding signed on November 16 at the company's Seoul headquarters. The agreement involved key representatives, including Song Ho-jun from EcoPro and Terence Ng, Chairman of TES. EcoPro, a leading battery cathode material company in Korea, operates as a subsidiary of SK ecoplant, while TES specializes in electronic waste.
The collaborative effort aims to complete the construction of the battery recycling plant by 2025. Hungary was chosen strategically due to its concentration of major battery companies, offering convenient access to a substantial “feedstock” supply. This feedstock includes defective products from battery manufacturing processes and end-of-life electric vehicle batteries, with the success of the recycling venture hinging on the steady availability of these materials.
As the world's fourth-largest battery producer, Hungary follows China, Poland, and the United States. Notably, major German car manufacturers (Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi) and Chinese companies (CATL, Eve Energy, Sunwoda) have a significant presence in Hungary, alongside domestic players Samsung SDI and SK. Hungary's battery production is projected to grow more than sevenfold by 2030 compared to the previous year.
The three companies plan to leverage their technological expertise and global networks to secure a consistent supply of feedstock. SK ecoplant and TES have established a global presence in 23 countries with 50 sites, strategically positioning logistics bases for collecting waste batteries. TES holds over 30 “Basel Permits” under the Basel Convention, required for transporting waste batteries to recycling facilities in other countries. Meanwhile, EcoPro is in the process of constructing a cathode material plant in Debrecen, Hungary, with an annual production capacity of 108,000 tons, slated to commence mass production in the second half of the upcoming year.
In addition to recycling, the companies aim to establish a “closed-loop system” in the region. This system involves reusing recovered rare metals such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel from waste batteries in the manufacturing of new batteries, contributing to a sustainable resource recycling economy. SK ecoplant has developed four core technologies covering the entire pre- and post-treatment process of battery recycling. These technologies include “enhancement of nickel, cobalt, and lithium recovery rates,” “development of extraction agents for water conservation,” and “rapid discharge for fire prevention.” EcoPro, with its expertise in battery core materials and recycling technology, particularly centered around wet processes, stands at the forefront of the battery recycling industry.