Sustainability Victoria (SV) presented its battery stewardship strategy at the Waste2013 conference in Coffs harbour recently. SV is a state government authority whose purpose is to drive integrated waste management and resource efficiency in Victoria. They have been an active member of the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI) since its inception.
John Polhill and Jade Barnaby from SV outlined the organisation’s approach to ‘priority products’ (including batteries), which is to:
• provide safe, accessible solutions to manage problematic products
• develop the business and public policy case to engage industry
• forge a shared responsibility to solve the problem.
SV has had a strategic focus on handheld batteries since 2007, when it introduced the BatteryBack pilot collection program in metropolitan Melbourne. Initially the program had only a small number of retail collection sites, was run at a high cost and with no industry or council involvement. There have been significant achievements since then:
• the quantity of batteries collected has grown by 300%, from 944 kg in the period 2007-2009, to 2,757 kg in 2011-12
• costs of the program per kilogram of batteries fell by 67%.
In 2013 the program will expand from 8 to 40 sites, with even lower costs per kg, industry support through the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI), greater retailer involvement and regional program trials. Other initiatives being undertaken as part of the SV strategy include:
• guidelines for safe handling, storage and transport
• the business and public policy case for battery stewardship.
In their presentation John and Jade explained that SVs battery stewardship strategy has a clear long term objective: to support the development of an industry-run national program to collect and recycle handheld batteries in Australia. This may require national regulation if industry is not willing to contribute voluntarily. The research and development work being undertaken by SV with their industry partners will provide valuable input to a regulatory impact statement if one is required.
More information on BatteryBack is available here.