CHARLESTON, SC—Redwood Materials is spending $3.5 billion to build a new factory here to recycle batteries from electric vehicles (EVs).

Redwood recycles and refines the many precious materials—like lithium, nickel and cobalt—found in used lithium-ion batteries from EVs and consumer electronics, then sends them back into the supply chain.

Construction of the new plant, the company’s second, is set to begin in the first quarter of 2023. The plant is expected to be up-and-running by the end of 2023 will have enough capacity to supply 1 million EVs annually. 

While Redwood’s flagship plant is near its Carson City, NV, headquarters, this one is in the nation’s “battery belt” in the Southeast. Ford established its Blue Oval City campus in Tennessee and two battery plants in Kentucky. GM, through its Ultium Cells joint venture with LG Energy Solution, is also investing in battery-making in Tennessee. Panasonic is building a new battery factory in Kansas. Hyundai is investing in EVs and battery production in Georgia.  

Redwood’s ramp-up is also crucial as the auto industry races to comply with a new federal law that requires car companies source and build certain percentages of their EVs domestically if they want their vehicles to qualify for tax credits. But even without federal encouragement, the industry has worked to bring the various parts of the all-new EV battery supply chain to the U.S. to drive down materials costs and cut the sticker price for buyers.

“The goal is to make the most sustainable battery materials,” says Jackson Switzer, Redwood’s senior director of business development. “To make the most sustainable battery materials, we need to get as much recycled nickel, cobalt, and lithium as we can into the front end of the system.”