Saubermacher sells Redux battery recycling unit to Redwood Materials


Saubermacher has divested its lithium-ion battery recycling activities. Effective 14 September, the Austrian waste management company sold its stake in Redux Recycling GmbH to the US battery recycler Redwood Materials. The two companies agreed not to disclose the purchase price. The take-over only affects the site in Bremerhaven, Germany. The battery recycling activities at Saubermacher’s site in Offenbach, Germany, were previously split off and are still owned by the Austrian group. Saubermacher said in future it will focus on take-back and waste management services for batteries as well as sorting and recycling of conventional household batteries.

Redwood described Redux as "the EU’s leading lithium-ion battery recycler”. The start-up founded by former Tesla manager Jeffrey Straubel says the acquisition will provide Redwood with a well-established EU presence to quickly expand operations and increase capacity for battery recycling. "The European market for battery recycling and materials manufacturing is growing rapidly and the acquisition of Redux positions Redwood as a key player in this market,” the company said.

The Bremerhaven plant has an annual processing capacity of 10,000 tonnes and is equipped to recycle batteries from electric vehicles (EV) and e-bikes, stationary storage systems and consumer devices such as mobile phones, laptops and power drills, according to the new owner. Redwood said that Redux’s proprietary pre-treatment and mechanical separation capabilities would complement its own technology portfolio. Redux already achieves recycling rates of up to 95 per cent for metals, according to Saubermacher. As part of the acquisition, around 70 employees in Bremerhaven will transfer to the US firm.

Saubermacher cites lack of funding for necessary investments

The Austrian firm said it had divested the activities because it was unable to provide the necessary financing for growth investments. "Only those who quickly reach a critical size can assume a leading role in the field of lithium-ion battery recycling in the long term. Saubermacher cannot make the significant investments required for this alone,” said Ralf Mittermayr, CEO of Saubermacher AG, in a press release. "With Redwood we have found the right partner to close the battery cycle sustainably for our customers,” he added. However, the company plans to remain active in lithium-ion battery (LIB) recycling through a strategic partnership with Redwood.

According to the most recently available financial figures, Redux Recycling GmbH saw its turnover drop by 30 per cent in 2021 to €8.4m. Its net loss widened that year to €4.6m from €3.6m one year earlier.

Redwood wants to expand Bremerhaven operations

The new owner of Redux wants to expand the operations in Bremerhaven. The processing capacity there could more than double by 2030, at best even increase by a factor of ten, Redwood founder and CEO JB Straubel said last week in an interview with the German business daily Handelsblatt. "We are already looking at a nearby expansion and other sites in the region."

Over a period of time in the near future, the company wants to invest a three-digit million sum in Germany. In addition to Germany, further plants could potentially be located in Central Europe and in parts of Scandinavia, Mr Straubel said.

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