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 >
The Battery Industry Working Group (BIWG) met on 13 October in Melbourne. This was followed by a meeting between IWG members and representatives from the consumer electronics, toy and power tool sectors. The meetings discussed the outcomes of two recent battery recycling trials and a study on potential costs and funding options for an ongoing program.
Toowoomba rechargeable battery recycling trial
This two-month trial was conducted in Toowoomba QLD, from 11 July to 5 September 2016. Its’ purpose was to investigate the feasibility of running a rechargeable batteries only recycling program. Specifically the trial examined consumers’ willingness to participate; their preference for collection points; their ability to distinguish between rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries and their preparedness to tape and bag batteries. The costs to collection and recycle, contamination levels and potential for free riding were also explored.
Collection points in the trial were hosted by retailers (Bunnings, Officeworks, IGA, Battery World, Supercheap Auto, BCF), Toowoomba Regional Council sites, Lifeline and the University of Southern Queensland. The trial was funded jointly by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), Battery World, Canon, Duracell, Energizer, Officeworks and Panasonic.
Initial results suggest consumers can distinguish between the battery types with a relatively low proportion of single use batteries being received (8% by weight); they prefer to recycle at Council sites and key retailers; and they did not want to bag or tape batteries. In total 372kg (1,358 batteries) were collected with 20 different brands making up about 80% of the collections by count and 60% by weight.
Power tool battery recycling trial
The purpose of the trial was to investigate the feasibility of collecting used power tool batteries through hardware stores and tool retailers. The trial ran for over a 9-month period (1 September 2015 – 30 June 2016) in Brisbane. Three retailers provided drop-off points for batteries: Bunnings Warehouse (9 stores), Trade Tools (6 stores) and Masters (4 stores). It was funded by the Queensland Department of Environment Heritage Protection.
Specifically, the trial investigated consumer willingness to participate, the level of contamination, the likely cost of an ongoing power tool recycling program running and if there were any OHS&E issues that needed to be addressed. The return of over 1 tonne of power tool batteries, relatively low contamination (12% by weight non power tool batteries), plus positive feedback from retailers and consumers suggests there is keen interest from consumers and industry to participate in an ongoing program.
Both trials have provided valuable insights into the design of collection containers, consumer and retailer engagement, collaboration between industry and government, logistics and costs.
Financial study on rechargeable battery recycling program options
Consultants Pacific Environment and RMCG have been engaged by the BIWG to investigate the costs of different rechargeable battery recycling programs and options on how these could be funded by industry, government and/or consumers. The preliminary results will be presented to the BIWG at its next meeting in early November.
1. A summary report will be prepared on each of the trials for public distribution.
2. The next meeting of the BIWG will be held on 7 November to review the preliminary report for the financial options study.
3. A progress report on the BIWG activities will be prepared for consideration by Environment Ministers at their next meeting on 25 November.
A new report from North American stewardship organisation Call2Recycle provides important insights into the quantity of consumer batteries available for collection and recycling.
The report estimates that almost 6.7 billion batteries were sold into US markets in 2014, weighing 242.7 million kilograms. A comparison between the US, Australia, Germany and selected European Union countries highlights some important differences, for example:
– over 64% of batteries marketed in the US by weight were estimated to be alkaline or zinc carbon (i.e. single-use), compared to 48.6% in Australia and 71.5% in the EU
– Australia has a higher percentage of sealed lead acid consumer batteries (24.4%) than the US (17.7%), selected EU countries (16.6%) and Germany (2.5%).
The report also estimated the length of time between the purchase of a consumer battery and when it is available for collection. This is a combination of:
– the active life of the battery
– the ability to remove the battery from the device
– any period of time during which the battery is stored or ‘hoarded’.
A key conclusion of the report is that batteries available for collection must be calculated by estimating sales into the market, then adjusted for the lifecycle of the battery, minus those batteries embedded in products that are unlikely to be ever recycled separately.
The next Lithium-ion battery workshop and training course will be held in Sydney on Thursday 20 October.
The forum has been organised by the Clean Energy Council in collaboration with ABRI, to provide information on responsible transport, storage and recycling of Lithium batteries.
The workshop in the morning (9.30am – 1.00pm) will include a range of topics and speakers including:
• Energy storage batteries: challenges and the Clean Energy Council’s response – Luke Pickles, CEC
• Projections for Lithium-ion battery consumption and waste to 2034 – Paul Randell, Randell Environmental Consulting
• A corporate perspective on lithium batteries: responsible installation, use and recovery – Jamie Allen, LG Chem
• Standards Australia roadmap for energy storage batteries: current standards and gaps – speaker TBC
• Responsible transport and recycling of lithium batteries at end of life – Helen Lewis, ABRI
• Collecting and recycling lithium batteries panel – Will LeMessurier, MRI; Sarah King, CSIRO Land and Water; Manny Papadopoulos, PF Metals; Veena Sahajwall, UNSW SMaRT Centre
This will be followed by a half-day training course in the afternoon (2.00pm – 5.00pm) on transporting Lithium batteries. The objective of the training is to raise awareness of DG transport requirements among battery manufacturers, installers, collectors and recyclers. Participants will receive a Certificate of Attendance and those requiring more detailed training and a qualification in DG transport will be directed to the most appropriate follow-up course.
Register for the forum here. CEC and ABRI members will receive a discount on their registration.
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