Electric bikes (e-bikes) are incredibly energy-efficient, but their overall effect on the planet is grim. Their lithium and lead-acid batteries often end up dumped in rivers, or poisoning the local population.
Thankfully, five HEC Paris MBA students have a solution. Their idea for streamlining e-bike battery recycling took 2nd place in the CEIBS 2019 INNOVATEChina pitch competition held in April, beating 60 teams from 30 other business schools.
Team Green Credit’s winning business proposal is simple. Their approach involves an application to show bicyclists where they can legally recycle their batteries, along with a discount on their next battery as a financial incentive. In China alone, the land of 250 million e-bikes, the students’ idea projects 300,000 tons of lead reclaimed from used batteries over five years.
“Many used e-bike batteries never enter into the recycling chain because the e-bike riders are not sufficiently incentivized,” HEC Paris MBA student Evelynn Zhao explains. “Those that are recycled often end up in ‘informal’ recycling chains, where they are dumped and have even more environmental impact. Batteries only last on average between 1.5 to 2 years, so the impact is huge.”
As part of the prize, team members Hana Wilson, Hilary Matson, Evelynn Zhao, Preetham Mysore and Emma Zaraisky won $3,000. Their project also generated lots of interest from the venture capitalists, government officials and social entrepreneurs who attended the Shanghai event.
“Green Credit tackles the huge environmental challenge faced by the largest market for electric bike batteries,” the 2019 INNOVATEChina website proclaims.