“As one of the leading bicycle manufacturers, we consider sustainability incredibly important,” says Margot Eelkman Rooda, ESG Supply Chain Manager at Accell Group. “That’s why we collaborate with the Dutch scale-up Refurb Battery Operations, which ‘harvests’ the lithium cells from our discarded bicycle batteries and uses them in circular energy storage systems. We are currently doing this for batteries in the Netherlands and Belgium, and we aim to expand further.”

 “Accell is one of the largest e-bike manufactures. We feel and take responsibility for conducting sustainable and circular business. We strive to be a sustainable leader: focusing on sustainable strategies and collaborating extensively with like-minded partners who share our commitment to promoting a circular economy. Because we believe that only together can we make the world more sustainable. It’s not something you compete on. However, you can take the lead and demonstrate how to conduct more sustainable business. Cycling is a sustainable way of transportation, but also the production and recycling of parts can be more sustainable. Our collaboration with Refurb and Stichting OPEN is a great example of this.”

Giving cells a new lease of life

Margot: “Accell Group produces traditional bicycles and e-bikes among other things. The batteries of e-bikes need to deliver a lot of power quickly: energy required to get moving. The e-bike battery accounts for a large part of the bike’s ecological footprint. By reducing that footprint, you make an important step for the environment. It may be that the battery is no longer suitable for that purpose over time, but the cells are still suitable for other purposes that require different qualities of the cells.

We consider our producer responsibility important because it ensures responsible and safe collection and recycling. Therefore, we collect discarded batteries through Stichting OPEN. Refurb then selects the batteries from these that they can use for a new purpose. The batteries not selected go for recycling.

Thanks to the collaboration with Refurb, we have taken an extra step between use and collection, and our batteries remain longer on the R ladder. Refurb has found a method to reuse the cells from the batteries for another purpose: energy storage. The cells that are no longer suitable as bicycle batteries often work perfectly fine for storing and gradually returning energy. Refurb has the knowledge and expertise to do this in a safe and responsible manner. Together, we give our bicycle batteries a second life, so they don’t unnecessarily end up in the waste stream.”

Sharing knowledge and expertise

“In addition to a good collaboration and a second life for our bicycle batteries, Refurb generates interesting data about those cells and batteries: which parts have failed, and how can we prevent that? We can use those insights into lifespan and usage in designing new batteries to make them even more sustainable. So, we’re being circular on all fronts. From design to second life.”

From pilot to European cooperation

“Where our collaboration with Refurb began as a pilot, we now aim to convince other countries in Europe to set up a similar sustainable cycle. Currently, Refurb is active in the Netherlands and Belgium. Together, we now want to implement Refurb in the recycling process of other European countries to significantly reduce the environmental impact of e-bikes. Interested in thinking and participating in sustainability too? You’re very welcome. By working together, we achieve more for the environment!”