Lithium is used in the cathode and electrolyte of rechargeable batteries in many portable electronics and electric vehicles, and is thus seen as a critical component of modern technology (Gruber et al., 2011). Electric vehicles are promoted as a way to reduce carbon emissions associated with the transportation sector, which accounts for 14.3% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (OECD International Transport Forum, 2010). However, the sustainability of lithium procurement will influence the overall environmental impact of this proposed “green” solution. It is estimated that 66% of the world’s lithium resource is contained in natural brines, 24% in pegmatites, and 8% in sedimentary rocks such as hectorite clays (Gruber et al., 2011). It has been shown that “[r]ecycling of lithium from Li-ion batteries may be a critical factor in balancing the supply of lithium with future demand” (Gruber et al., 2011). In an attempt to quantify energy and materials consumption associated with production of a unit of useful lithium compounds, industry reports and peer-reviewed scientific literature concerning lithium mining and lithium recycling were reviewed and compared. Other aspects of sustainability, such as waste or by-products produced in the production of a unit of useful lithium, were also explored. Thus, this paper will serve to further the evaluation of the comparative environmental consequences associated with lithium production via extraction versus recycling. Efficiencies must be made in both processes to maximize productivity while minimizing ecological harm.