The Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI) has been formed by a group of battery manufacturers, recyclers, retailers, government bodies and environment groups to promote the collection, recycling and safe disposal of all batteries.
ABRI’s role includes research, advocacy, education and stakeholder engagement to promote safe and environmentally responsible recycling of all batteries at end of life….More >
Energizer Household Products, a division of Energizer Holdings, has launched a new high performance alkaline battery (Energizer® EcoAdvanced™). According to the company’s media release, the AA battery contains 4% recycled battery material.
“Industry experts long believed it was impossible to create a battery made with recycled batteries while maintaining performance,” said Michelle Atkinson, Chief Marketing Officer. Energizer scientists created proprietary partnerships and an innovative approach that refines and transforms recycled battery material into a high-performance active ingredient.
“Our future innovations will continue to reduce the impact Energizer batteries have on the planet. By 2025, our vision for Energizer EcoAdvanced is to increase the amount of recycled battery material ten-fold to 40 percent.” said Atkinson.
In their media release Energizer said they were committed to “working toward a future where recycling is more broadly available”.
The recycling rate for alkaline batteries in Australia is around 1.6%. Energizer recently met with Australian government representatives to discuss the feasibility of a voluntary battery take-back program. This follows 18 months of research and consultation by the Battery Implementation Working Group, led by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage.
The Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI) is calling for producer responsibility legislation for household batteries, declaring that it is no longer acceptable to dispose of used batteries in landfill.
ABRI has worked closely with government and industry representatives over the past two years to develop a voluntary stewardship program for handheld batteries, which would include the ‘take-back’ and safe recycling of batteries.
Following the failure of the current round of discussions to get the majority of battery manufacturers to agree to a voluntary plan for battery recycling, ABRI has written to The Hon Greg Hunt, Minister for the Environment, asking the government to investigate co-regulation for handheld batteries.
“We are frustrated by the lack of progress to date, but we believe that there is a workable solution that will meet the needs of all parties. Intelligent regulations will eliminate the possibility of competitive disadvantage and ensure industry-wide participation,” said ABRI CEO Helen Lewis.
All batteries contain non-renewable resources and are recyclable. Some contain hazardous materials such as lead, cadmium or mercury, which have potential to leach into the natural environment over time and must be removed from general waste.
Community expectations are also demanding that manufacturers and brands take greater responsibility for their products at end-of-life and provide free recycling solutions.
“Within the community, there is significant support for battery recycling, as the success of Aldi’s take-back scheme attests,” said Brad Gray, Planet Ark’s Head of Campaigns. “Through its program, 2.7 million batteries have been recycled since it began just a couple years ago. Last year we had more than 110,000 people use our RecyclingNearYou service to find battery recycling options.”
Handheld batteries were included in the Australian Government’s product priority list for 2012-13 and again in 2013-14. The Battery Implementation Working Group (BIWG) was established in late 2013 to investigate the feasibility of a voluntary stewardship program.
The BIWG involved key industry stakeholders in productive discussions on the design of a national stewardship scheme and the investigation of alternative models. The group also commissioned research on current levels of battery recycling and disposal and consumer attitudes to battery recycling. In March 2014 the BIWG released a discussion paper on voluntary, industry-led national product stewardship models for Australia.
Response to the discussion paper has been positive, with many stakeholders including some battery brand owners, electronics companies and retailers supporting a voluntary scheme. Others have not supported this approach, expressing concern that without regulation the potential for free-riding is high, resulting in voluntary participants being unfairly charged for program costs.
In the United States, the Corporation for Battery Recycling, representing three of the largest single-use battery manufacturers—Procter & Gamble (Duracell), Energizer, and Panasonic—has collaborated with other industry associations to develop the Model Consumer Battery Stewardship Act. This provides the framework for legislation that mandates producer responsibility for battery recycling at a state level. The draft legislation provides a useful model for Australia because it already has widespread battery industry support at a corporate (global) level.
ABRI is calling on Minister Hunt to seriously consider co-regulation for handheld batteries in collaboration with his state and territory Ministerial colleagues.
“Based on the research and consultation undertaken by BIWG and ABRI over the past 18 months, it is clear a voluntary approach is not supported by all industry players” said Dr Lewis. “It is time to deliver much needed policy reform that will enable Australians to access environmentally responsible battery recycling services.”
The UK Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is consulting on proposed changes to Government Guidance on the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009. The changes are intended to remove ambiguity about what constitutes a ‘portable battery’.
While all batteries weighing less than 4kg are considered to be portable (easily carried by hand) there are different interpretations being used for batteries between the weights of 4kg and 10kg. This is distorting the data used to calculate recycling rates. In 2012 the proportion of members obligations under the regulations being met by lead acid batteries was 83%, whereas the proportion of lead acid batteries placed on the market was only 8%. This apparent ‘over collection’ of lead acid batteries is because of a difference in the way that the definition of a portable battery is being applied at the two ends of the chain, i.e. when placed on the market and when recycled.
Many producer compliance schemes are currently able to comply with the batteries regulations using evidence generated by lead acid batteries alone. This creates a lack of incentive to invest in the collection and recycling of other portable battery types, and will make it more difficult to achieve the EU target of 45% by 2016.
The proposal is to introduce a single weight threshold of 4kg, so that any battery weighing less than this will be considered to be ‘hand carried’.
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