Australia’s peak recycling body has called for a national battery recycling scheme to tackle the growing problem seriously and prevent batteries from exploding in recycling facilities.
The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) has urged the national and state governments to take immediate action and establish a national product stewardship and recycling scheme for handheld batteries.
ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel said just three per cent of batteries were recycled in Australia, with many ending up at general recycling facilities, where they are known to explode, instead of going to specialist battery recyclers
“As a result of the digital age, battery consumption is going up by about 300% per year and millions of post-consumer batteries are ending up where they don’t belong which causes not only environmental harm but increasingly fires and OHS risks,” Mr Shmigel said.
“Batteries that wrongly end up in our industry’s established materials recovery facilities for packaging or scrap metal recycling operations are known to explode as a result of heat and pressure from normal operations. We are now consistently experiencing the operational and cost impacts, and should not wait to see somebody hurt.”
The lack of a national battery recycling scheme is also having a financial toll on recyclers.
Mr Shmigel noted that insurance premiums in the recycling industry were known to have increased as much as five-fold per year, in some cases due to increased fire risk.
“Outside of some retailers’ commendable initiatives, there is no alternative, comprehensive and accessible way for Australians to correctly present their used batteries for recycling, and there really needs to be,” he said.
Organisations such as the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI) have been pushing for a national stewardship program for batteries, similar to the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme.
ABRI member and leading battery recycler Ecocycle continues to invest heavily in battery recycling infrastructure, including state-of-the-art sorting systems and purpose-built facilities located across the country.
Ecocycle Business Development Manager Daryl Moyle said mandatory battery recycling could drive a huge increase in battery waste recycling.
“Successful stewardship programs rely on legislation that requires manufacturers and importers of products to pay a levy on each sale,” he said.
“The money raised from the levy would then be passed on to the companies that collect and recycle battery waste.”
To fund a national battery recycling scheme, ACOR analysis has shown that a program would cost less than one per cent of a typical battery’s retail price.
Another major challenge facing battery recycling efforts is public awareness, Mr Moyle said.
“We need to raise more awareness around battery recycling in Australia and educate the community on how to recycle handheld batteries correctly,” he said.
“Too many people still keep used batteries in the kitchen drawer or throw them in the recycling bin, when they should be taken to dedicated collection bins offered by councils and certain retailers.”
Ecocycle recycles batteries by providing collection bins to workplaces and then picking them up once they’re full.
Battery waste is carefully transported to our facilities, where they are sorted and responsibly stored until they are recycled onsite.
Ecocycle can even collect damaged batteries safely with its degraded battery collection and storage containers.
If you want to learn more about Ecocycle’s battery recycling solutions, give us a call on 1300 32 62 92 or fill out the form below.