A consumer survey conducted by Ipsos in January 2014 identified a willingness to recycle batteries but a significant knowledge barrier. The survey was commissioned by the Battery Implementation Working Group in collaboration with the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (MobileMuster).
Half of those surveyed currently dispose of their used batteries by putting them in their rubbish bin (51%), 18% take them to a collection point for recycling, 16% put them in their kerbside recycling bin, and 6% keep them in storage. Most people who put their batteries in their kerbside recycling bin are unaware that the batteries will not be recycled (these bins go to a sorting facility to recover paper and packaging, and batteries are considered a ‘contaminant’ in that process).
An estimated 10% of consumers take their used batteries to a retail collection point for recycling. Of this group, the highest percentage go to ALDI (26%), Battery World (21%) and Coles Supermarkets (19%), followed by Bunnings (9%), Officeworks (9%) and MobileMuster collection points (4%).
Many people said that they do not recycle because they are unaware how or where to recycle batteries, or even that it is possible to recycle them. The top two ideas that were offered by survey respondents to encourage recycling were knowing where to find bins and having them at local supermarkets. When asked about preferences for recycling used batteries, most people would prefer to take them to a retail store, followed by petrol stations and public facilities such as a school, library or council office.
The data from this survey will help to inform the development of a national battery stewardship program for handheld batteries.