With increasing concerns on environmental impacts of retired lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) and supply risk of critical materials, second life and recycling are considered as promising strategies to mitigate the environmental impacts of retired automotive LIBs. In this life cycle assessment (LCA) study, we investigate environmental benefits of second life and recycling methods on three types of widely adopted, commercialized automotive LIBs, including lithium manganese oxide (LMO), lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NCM) and lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA). The results show that when subjected to second life, LIBs with both superior energy storage capacity and energy density generate more environmental benefits than LIBs that is less competitive in either working performance (31 % - 44 %, 16 % - 21 % and 50 % - 56 % reduction in environmental impacts). This is in line with the current trend towards the development of electric vehicles with larger energy storage capacity and longer battery life. We also found that direct cathode recycling outperforms hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical recycling regardless of battery chemistry. Among all recycling methods, only pyrometallurgical recycling is carbon intensive. The recovery of cathode active material and metals, including copper and aluminum, are critical to the environmental performance of batteries.