Employees suddenly laid off at Li-Cycle Kingston facility

Li-Cycle’s battery recycling facility on Hagerman Avenue in Kingston. Image via Li-Cycle.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since it was originally published on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, at 4:46 p.m. Please see bottom of article for most recently updated information.

Lithium-ion battery recycling company Li-Cycle has abruptly shuttered its Kingston location, laying off nearly all of the employees there without notice.

According to multiple sources, employees arrived at the Hagerman Avenue facility on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, only to be told they no longer had jobs. Former employees reported that all but three of those employed at the production and processing plant were laid off, with the remaining three employees to stay on for three weeks to prepare the location for closure.

This comes after the company’s Rochester, NY, project was halted on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. Li-Cycle said it was “pausing” construction work on it’s multi-million-dollar “Rochester Hub,” pending a “comprehensive review of the go-forward strategy for the project.”

“Li-Cycle has recently experienced escalating construction costs. Accordingly, the Company expects the aggregate cost for the current scope of the project to exceed its previously disclosed guidance,” the company said in a press release.

“Li-Cycle continues to work closely with the U.S. Department of Energy with respect to the previously announced $375 million loan commitment through the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program for the project, in conjunction with the project review.”

Kingstonist reached out to Li-Cycle, both locally and corporately, by email and phone on the morning of November 1 to confirm that the company’s Kingston location was, in fact, closing. No response was initially received. Li-Cycle did, however, issue a press release the same day, announcing it had “adopted a limited duration shareholder rights plan,” which it said is “intended to protect the long-term interests of Li-Cycle and Li-Cycle’s shareholder,” and “designed to protect against unequal treatment of the Company’s shareholders and reduce the likelihood that any person or group will gain control of, or exert significant influence over, Li-Cycle, including through open market accumulations, without appropriately compensating Li-Cycle’s shareholders for control.”

Kingstonist was then contacted by further sources about the closure and continued to reach out to Li-Cycle for answers. Just after 2 p.m. today, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, Louie Diaz, Li-Cycle’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, said the company has “decided to pause the processing of batteries at our Ontario Spoke.” (The “Ontario Spoke” is Li-Cycle’s name for the Kingston location, which was the company’s first commercial processing facility.

“As you may know, Li-Cycle paused construction at its Rochester Hub and is conducting a comprehensive review. This pause was a decision we did not make lightly. As part of the review, and in line with operating as efficiently as possible, we have made the difficult decision to pause the processing of batteries at our Ontario Spoke,” Diaz wrote in an email to Kingstonist.

“Regrettably, our employees at the Spoke in Kingston will be impacted, which has resulted in employee layoffs. We have made every effort to provide impacted employees with support, which includes extended benefits coverage, outplacement support, and severance.”

Diaz did not address any of the questions previously posed by Kingstonist regarding how many people Li-Cycle employed at the Kingston plant (there were 40 employees there in 2021, however, the facility expanded after that in March 2022), if those employees had advanced notice of the closure (though sources assert they did not receive notice), and what the company has to say to the municipal, provincial, and federal governments who worked toward and invested in the company’s Kingston facility.

Just this year, Li-Cycle announced it was expanding its facility in Kingston, following the site being toured by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. And, according to the company’s website, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland toured the “Ontario Spoke” with Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen just last month, though with little fanfare. The “Ontario Spoke” page of the Li-Cycle website remains live as of time of publication. Kingstonist has followed up with Li-Cycle’s VP of Marketing and Communications with further questions, including whether the company has any intention of re-opening the Kingston facility in the future. This is a developing story, and additional coverage will be provided as more information becomes available.

Update (Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, at 5:20 p.m.):

Kingstonist has learned that Li-Cycle’s new plant development on Clogg’s Road has been halted.

2 thoughts on “Employees suddenly laid off at Li-Cycle Kingston facility

  • What was the actual date this occurred? November 1st was a Wednesday, but the article says “Wednesday Nov. 1, 2023”.

    • Hi William,

      Apologies for the confusion, the article has been updated to reflect the correct day and date the layoffs occurred, which was Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023.

      Tori Stafford

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