National stewardship negotiations
ABRI is actively involved in negotiations to establish a national stewardship program for handheld batteries.
Handheld batteries are listed as a ‘priority product’ under the Product Stewardship Act 2011. The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) is leading negotiations to establish an industry-funded recycling program on behalf of all jurisdictions.
Negotiations commenced in 2013 through the multi-stakeholder Battery Implementation Working Group (BIWG). BIWG commissioned a study on Battery stocks and flows, and released a Discussion Paper in March 2014. DEHP invited feedback from stakeholders and met individually with many of the larger battery brand owners.
At their meeting on 15 July Environment Ministers agreed to continue negotiations with industry on a voluntary stewardship program, but to refine the focus to ‘hazardous and rechargeable batteries’. This was in response to feedback from primary battery manufacturers, who said that governments should focus their attention on the most hazardous batteries first. These include nickel cadmium (NiCd), lead acid and lithium batteries.
The re-named Battery Working Group (BIWG) met in Melbourne on 9 October to recommence work on a national battery stewardship scheme with the revised scope. This has been interpreted as all rechargeable batteries weighing less than 5kg, plus button cells.
Planning for the national scheme will be informed by several pilot recycling projects, including:
– ABRI’s Power Tools Batteryback pilot, launched in September 2015
– Lighting Council Australia’s EXITcycle pilot for emergency and exit lighting batteries, launched in October 2015
– ABRI’s Batteryback retail collection pilot in Melbourne, which is currently being refined in collaboration with retail partners
– ABRI’s pilot collection of button cells in NSW, which is expected to commence in early 2016.
BWG will oversee planning for the stewardship scheme with input from a Technical Working Group. Both groups are expected to meet on Thursday 17 December 2015.
ABRI is an active member of BWG and is managing pilot projects to inform the development of a national voluntary scheme for rechargeable batteries. This is an important first step in the development of a scheme for all handheld batteries, which would bring Australia into line with other jurisdictions including the European Union, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Canada and Vermont (US). If the current negotiations are unsuccessful ABRI will work with Ministers in 2016 to develop regulations under the Product Stewardship Act.
Read ABRI”s most recent media release here.