Are Electric Scooters Better For The Environment?

by Ankit Sharma

As far as cost and convenience go, electric scooters are becoming an increasingly viable choice for your daily commute. But, the jury's out on whether they are actually better for the environment. Let’s take a look at the facts: 

  1. Manufacturing: The most obvious win is that, because they use a rechargeable battery for power, they don't contribute to air pollution. But, to really understand how much an electric scooter can impact the environment, you need to start at the factory. Whether it is building the scooters themselves, or in some cases, manufacturing rechargeable batteries, it does impact the environment and to a larger extent than you may have anticipated. In some cases, the carbon emissions produced from manufacturing e-scooters can exceed that of a fuel-driven scooter.
  2. Daily Usage: Daily use of e-scooters definitely does its part for the environment. This is because e-scooters are powered by electricity so there is no fuel usage and therefore no air pollution. The only impact they do have comes from using electricity for recharging cells. But this is minimal compared to other forms of travel. Another advantage of using electric scooters is minimal noise and toxic emissions from batteries. 
  3. Batteries: While they don't contribute to air pollution in the same way that a motorcycle engine does, batteries are the prime source of consumption in an electric scooter. If not handled properly, they can contribute to chemical pollution. Despite marketing claims, manufacturing batteries and recharging them on a daily basis does have a large environmental impact and is definitely not negligible. The same can be said about fuel-based alternatives, but here there are multiple chemicals and parts involved in manufacturing one battery, leading to more causes of pollution. 
  4. Human Factors: Electric scooters are a great way to get to nearby places because they are easy to pick up and drop off along the way. However, have you considered that it may have been easier on the environment if you just walked to that destination? So if you made a graph of eco-friendly travel alternatives, e-scooters would be somewhere in the middle. Some usage vs no usage over time leads to another big factor when considering how eco-friendly these scooters are! 

There are a lot of factors other than just what we see and consider to be environmental pollution. When a lot of people use a mass-produced product, there has to be considerably less overall pollution when that product goes from manufacturing to distribution to market. In the case of e-scooters, the manufacturing of both the bikes and cells comes into play and it is considerably larger than the same route to market for fuel-powered bikes. 

Electric scooters do not cause visible air pollution, but the background causes and consequences are much larger than we normally take into consideration as regular users. Yes, air, noise and other sorts of pollution are limited inside the city, but the overall ecological footprint is larger than you might have thought.