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Kingston business growing thanks to lithium-ion battery processing technology

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A Kingston business has found a unique way to power its profits.

Li-Cycle, located on Hagerman Avenue, showed off its facility on Wednesday, touting its role as the top lithium-ion battery recycling company in North America.

Around a dozen people, including Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson and Kingston and the Islands MPP Ian Arthur, got a chance to see the company’s first commercial facility, getting a glimpse of how the recycling operation works.

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Tim Johnston is the executive chair and co-founder of Li-Cycle.

“We knew there had to be a better way to process batteries; we knew there was a lot of value in a battery,” Johnston said. “Today, 70 per cent of the value of the battery is the materials in the battery, so it made a lot of sense to be able to process these.

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“Recover those important materials, supply them back into the economy.”

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Li-Cycle has been in the Limestone City since late 2016, completing numerous stages of research and development. The Hagerman Avenue location has the capacity to process 5,000 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries per year.

That’s obviously good news when it comes to the environment, according to Johnston.

“One of the key things about the Li-Cycle technology is that we don’t produce any wastewater, there’s no meaningful air admissions, it’s a very simple small footprint of a plant,” Johnston said.

“And we’re able to do it in a way that we’re managing health and safety, environment — we’re also economically sustainable.”

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Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson was more than pleased with what he saw.

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“This is exactly what we want to be able to do, is attract companies and businesses in this particular space,” Paterson said.

“Being able to find those win-wins, economically as well as environmental.”

Johnston says Li-Cycle works with the largest consumer collector of lithium-ion batteries as well as all of the major automotive companies. He says it doesn’t matter what the form factor is; if it came from an electric vehicle, a hybrid vehicle or your mobile phone the company will process them all.

Earlier this year Li-Cycle was named a 2020 “Global Clean-Tech 100” company. The Kingston facility employs 30 people.