A new Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS 5377:2013) has been published for the collection, storage, transport and treatment of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment. This sets out the principles and minimum requirements for the safe and environmentally sound recovery of household appliances, computers, telecommunications equipment, televisions, power tools, lighting products and other forms of electrical and electronic equipment.
The Standard includes some specific requirements for the management of batteries recovered with e-waste. Batteries need to be removed as an ‘identifiable stream’ before the equipment is processed. Processes must be in place to ‘prevent the combustion, explosion or leaking of batteries and short circuits or flows of current by insulating the electrical contacts with electrical tape or other safe means of assuring electrical safety’. Special consideration should be given to wet cell and lithium batteries, including commingled batteries if any lithium battery is present. For example, the Standard advises that ‘exposure of lithium batteries to heat, humidity, sunlight or water along with any crushing or physical damage shall be avoided during handling, sorting, storage and transport’. It also suggests that lithium batteries be stored in a separate area away from any other waste streams.
According to the Standard the minimum acceptable method for processing of batteries is metal recovery (through a manual, mechanical, hydrometallurgical or hydrometallurgical process), plus recovery of plastics and acid from used lead acid batteries. Disposal of batteries to landfill is not an acceptable option.
The Standard can be purchased from SAI Global.