ABRI has called on the Australian Government to ensure that all backup batteries provided to customers on the National Broadband Network (NBN) are recycled.
The Australian Government established NBN Co Limited to design, build and operate a new high-speed NBN. As customers are transferred onto NBN Co’s new fibre network Telstra’s legacy copper network within the fibre footprint will be decommissioned.
The existing copper network is independently powered from the exchange and is capable of providing analogue phone services to households and businesses in the event of a power outage. Unlike the copper network, fibre does not carry electricity and will not support analog phones in a power outage.
The Government is consulting with stakeholders on appropriate ways of providing battery backup services for those who need them.
Backup is provided through a high quality sealed lead acid battery that has an operational life of 3-5 years. The government has estimated that the provision of a backup facility to all 11 million fixed line voice subscribers in Australia would result in the disposal of 2-4 million batteries annually.
In its submission to the government ABRI has argued that the design of the battery backup service must include the establishment of a mandatory take-back and recycling program to reduce the environmental impact of the batteries at end of life. The disposal of used lead acid batteries in landfill is clearly unacceptable because of the environmental risks involved. Disposal in landfill also means that valuable non-renewable resources, particularly lead, are not being rcovered for reuse.