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“Electric vehicles have arrived!” The message is everywhere, from Super Bowl ads to The Economist. And they are right: U.S. sales of electric vehicles (EVs) doubled from 2020 to 2021. The rise of EVs is a critical part of the opportunity to transition to a cleaner transportation system. With that opportunity, ensuring sustainable materials management within the EV battery supply chain is crucial, from the mining of materials to their recovery at the end of each battery’s life. As the industry navigates ensuring responsible mining to address environmental risks and prioritize worker safety, NextCycle Michigan teams are striving to ensure that batteries can be recovered to feed back into the supply chain.

Two of these teams—VMX International (VMXI) and ReCharge Recycling—are alums of the first NextCycle Michigan Recycling Supply Chain (RSC) accelerator track. Inspired by the rapid growth of the electric vehicle (EV) industry in Michigan, both are working to build battery refurbishment and recycling facilities which will recover critical minerals including lithium, cobalt, and nickel.


ReCharge ReCycling came to NextCycle Michigan for support in:

  • developing their business plan and site selection criteria for a Flint location,
  • deciding between different equipment and processing options,
  • navigating regulations and permitting, and
  • firming up their estimates of the environmental and social impacts of the project.

Their approach emphasizes both reuse and recycling: using residual energy from the batteries in powering their facility, identifying and redirecting reusable batteries, recovering reusable battery parts, and then recycling the units and parts which are truly at end of life. ReCharge Recycling will have multiple product lines including second-life batteries, used battery parts, recycled materials for new battery manufacturing, and data on battery lifecycles gleaned from their work.

According to CEO and Co-Founder Michael Czarnota,

“In the next three years, the EV batteries to be recovered will grossly outweigh the capacity to process EV batteries and battery packs. NextCycle Michigan has been very instrumental in ReCharge Recycling’s progress in developing a Flint EV battery testing and processing facility to harness this opportunity. NextCycle consultants and partners introduced us to all the right people at state grant programs, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, institutions and agencies which are partnering with us for workforce development and training, and EHS (Environment Health and Safety) organizations just to name a few. I am passionate about the electrification and revitalization potential here for Flint and the opportunity to create a ‘Flint Green Valley’ offering good-paying, sustainable jobs.”

Pictured left to right: Mike Maizland – President of ReCharge Recycling, Rick Mason – Flint/Saginaw JATC Regional Training Coordinator, Michael Czarnota – CEO of ReCharge Recycling.

ReCharge Recycling won the $10,000 Centrepolis Accelerator Award at the October 2022 Team Showcase. They were also awarded a $100,000 Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Market Development grant. In July of 2023, the organization moved to a new facility, expanding its capabilities in electrical vehicle battery testing and grading.

VMX International

VMXI is an environmental service company with over 20 years of experience serving the automotive industry. VMXI already manages battery recycling for their clients but must send the collected batteries downstream through one company and on to another before the materials are ready for sale to manufacturers. VMXI also envisions refurbishing any batteries suitable for reuse while recycling those at the true end of life. They are planning to develop a facility to test, refurbish and dismantle batteries with robust shredding and separation capability and hydrometallurgy technology to recover recyclable materials, especially the rare earth elements so critical to many battery chemistries. VMXI’s workplan for their accelerator experience included defining their ideal position in the battery recycling value chain, conceptualizing the facility, developing revenue and cost model proforma, and conducting a project risk assessment.

“We are so lucky to be a part of NextCycle Michigan,” said VMXI CEO Vickie Lewis. She continued,

“The Recycling Supply Chain Accelerator helped us find all the data we needed to design a program that would be profitable and meet the demand for diversion and circularity. The support we got from NextCycle Michigan started with the office hours and classes, then continued with sitting down with our team: they gave us a team that had regularly scheduled meetings where we told them where we were in the project and what assistance we needed. Whatever assistance we needed; they would provide that.

Then we went to the pitch showcase, and I left that event with contacts of folks that were interested in investing in the VMXI project. And the attention we got for the program led to being selected for the Ernst and Young Winning Women program. Winning Women, in turn, gave me an opportunity to meet other investors. I’m part of innovation. I’m part of developing a real battery recycling system. And none of this was happening before VMXI participated in the NextCycle RSC Accelerator.”

Vickie Lewis receiving the Wheel of Innovation Pitch Award at the October 2022 Team Showcase.

VMXI won the Wheel of Innovation Pitch Award at the October 2022 Team Showcase. The award included a prize of $7,500. VMXI was also awarded a $100,000 Market Development Grant.

As the battery industry in Michigan expands in response to the extraordinary opportunity presented by the growth of the EV industry, the NextCycle Michigan network is pleased to support a variety of initiatives in this space, and in turn, the vital transition to cleaner transportation systems.