Recycling hybrid car batteries in the Toyota Prius

Recycling hybrid car batteries is a topic that’s cropping up with regularity as more people switch to electrified vehicles. Toyota has been keen to ensure that when the third-generation Prius does reach the end of its useful life, it can be efficiently recycled.

At the end of its days, 85% of the Prius can be recycled and 95% of its materials can be recovered. This includes the hybrid system’s high-voltage battery, too, which is fully recyclable in a complex, but efficient and environmentally responsible process.

During the car’s life, the battery pack is responsible for storing the energy which is either recovered through regenerative braking or generated from the petrol engine, and supplying it on demand to the Hybrid Synergy Drive‘s powerful electric motor.

Storing and releasing a large amount of power in this way creates a lot of heat – the image below shows how the battery pack is cooled by a powerful fan.

recycling hybrid car batteries

The battery pack is designed to last the lifetime of Prius. When the car’s life is over, the battery will be removed at an authorised service centre.

From there it will be transported by a Toyota-appointed waste management company to one of three European final treatment companies, equipped to carry out the specialised recovery process that is at the heart of recycling hybrid car batteries.

The battery’s outer casing is stripped off and the metal re-used in steel-making. Likewise the wires and electronic parts are removed and handled by specialist recovery firms. This leaves the battery cells, which are subjected to high-temperature treatment while held in a vacuum sealed container.

At 400ºC all the organic materials break down into a mixture of oil and water, which is removed and processed by a licensed water treatment company.

The heat process continues to 800ºC, after which what remains of the cells is exposed to hydrogen, which helps break the oxides down into metals.

This leaves a highly concentrated nickel alloy that’s suitable for use as a raw material for making new batteries, completing a neat manufacturing circle. Other metals recovered at the end of the process are suitable for use in making stainless and other specialised steels.

The environmental impact of the complete recycling process was fully addressed in Toyota’s life cycle assessment of new Prius: In terms of the car’s lifetime CO2 emissions, the full recycling process is far from being a ‘dirty’ job – it’s responsible for only around 2% of the total.

Details in this article were correct at the time of publication.


  1. Thank you for well written article. But I had difficulty navigating around your web site because I kept getting 502 bad gateway error. Just thought to let you know.

  2. Hi
    We are a training company called Training 2000 based in Blackburn who have 6 hybrid batteries that we need to dispose of correctly (i.e. recycle)
    Can you please let me know if the local Blackburn Toyota dealership (vantage) should help me in disposing of the batteries correctly via the Toyota recycling scheme

    Many Thanks

    1. Hi Martin,
      Thanks for your comment.
      We would recommend contacting Vantage Toyota Blackburn directly to see if they can assist you with this.

  3. I have a Prius at the end of life. I understand I might be able to take the battery to an authorised dealer and collect a fee for recycling. I’m at Wacol QLD can you please advise where my closest dealer is, how I go about dropping it off and how I get paid.
    Regards Allen

    1. Hi Allen, thanks for your comment.

      We can only advise on the UK market, please contact Toyota in your area directly.


      Toyota UK

  4. Hi
    I have a Toyota 20014 Yaris Hybrid at the moement it has been good avarage 58mpg in the winter 65mpg in the summer I cruise on the motorways not often but can get 70mpg. With the cost of energy and the issues around being ECO friendly. I am looking at the Pruis hybrid and would like to know which is the lowest year that the battaery will give 39 miles without charge. Most of my trips are local and mostly in 40 or 30mph areas & some in 20mph is it possible to cruise at 20mph. I am 79 years of age and would like to on the continent, without using planes and airports but would like to be able to do this ECO friendly as well saving on the costs. I would appreciate your advice in achieving the right year and model to achieve these ambitions.

  5. Hi
    I have a 2012 Toyota Prius hybrid and want to know how long the battery lasts and when it should be changed ? How much it will cost me to get it replaced ?

    1. Hi Waseem,
      The battery is designed to remain in the vehicle for its entire lifetime.
      In the unlikely event of it needing replacing, your Toyota Centre would be best placed to advise on pricing at that given time.

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