Europe reaches 44 per cent battery recycling collection rate

Around 44 per cent of batteries sold in Europe were collected for recycling, with Belgium reaching 70.7 per cent, according to new data from the European Union’s statistical office, Eurostat.

In total, the data found around 214,000 tonnes of portable batteries and accumulators were put on the market in 2016, with around 93,000 tonnes collected for recycling, meaning more than twice the amount of batteries that had been put on the market than were collected.

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Luxembourg reached 63.4 per cent collection rate, with Hungary and Lithuania reaching around 53 per cent. Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom achieved collection rates of around 45 per cent.

The EU target for collection rates of portable batteries was set at 45 per cent in 2016, meaning 13 EU member states did not reach the target.

Australia has a comparatively low recycling rate of batteries, with the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative finding only three per cent of batteries are recycled and 70 per cent are sent to landfill.

To improve Australia’s battery recycling rates, the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has called for a regulated product stewardship program for batteries by 2020.

The NWRIC said such a low recycling rate means regulator intervention is the only option.

“With a combination of sensible regulation, targeted investment and consumer education, almost all of Australia’s used batteries can be safely recycled. This would reduce the risk of fires at recycling facilities and minimise the contamination of compost,” the organisation said in a release.

City of Ballarat signs waste to energy agreement with MRCB

A due diligence study can now be undertaken for the construction of a $300 million municipal waste to energy plant in the Ballarat West Employment Zone.

It comes as a result of the City of Ballarat signing a Waste to Energy Heads of Agreement with the Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB).

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The City of Ballarat has been planning for a waste to energy facility for five years, which would divert 60 per cent of the city’s waste into an energy source for industries and reduce the current regional landfill’s environmental impacts.

Currently, 30,000 tonnes of waste are deposited in the landfill each year, with waste disposal costing more than $18 million per year.

It is estimated that the plant would increase the size of Ballarat’s economy by $202 million through building and flow on effects, with about 420 jobs created during construction and 120 ongoing jobs.

MRCB’s technology partner, Babcock and Wilcox Volund, built its first waste to energy plant in 1931 and has gone on to build more in the United States, China, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Malaysia and Korea.

City of Ballarat Mayor Cr Samantha McIntosh said the Western region was already a leader in renewable energy production, particularly wind energy, but this announcement would further enhance its standing.

“Signing this Heads of Agreement means we are one significant step closer to a Waste to Energy plant in Ballarat that would be a regional solution to our waste reduction issues while providing an affordable and reliable energy source,” Cr McIntosh said.

“It would also be a driving force in attracting industries and employment to BWEZ by delivering a uniquely competitive advantage.”

“We will also maintain our commitment to minimising waste through continual education about re-use and recycling.”

MRCB’s Group Managing Director Imran Salim arrived from Kuala Lumpur to witness the Heads of Agreement signing by Ravi Krishnan, CEO of MRCB International.

“MRCB is delighted to be in Ballarat and looks forward to working closely with the City of Ballarat and the wider community on providing a world class facility,” Mr Salim said.

OECD urges global governments to improve plastic recycling

Plastic recycling is being held back by low recovery rates, poor quality of recycled plastic and a lack of price incentives according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Improving Markets for Recycled Plastics: Trends, Prospects and Policy Responses report urges governments around the globe to act fast to encourage more recycling at a better quality.

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It attributes the lag in plastic recycling to the fact it is cheaper to create products from new plastic than it is to recycle plastic. The report also said primary plastics can be priced higher than recycled plastic, due to it usually being better quality.

Hazardous chemical additives can also survive in recycling plastics, which the report says weighs on secondary markets.

It estimates the world produces around eight times as much new plastic compared to recycled plastic.

The OECD report calls for stronger incentives to be provided for better designed plastic goods, as well as an investment in waste collection infrastructure and source separation. A product label system that shows how much recycled content is in a product was suggested to create consumer driven demand.

Heavier taxes on the manufacture of new plastics was also suggested to reduce the demand in items such as single use bags, cutlery or drinking straws.

Barriers to recycling identified by the report include the view that recycled plastics are substitutes, prices of recycled plastics being driven by oil costs instead of collection, sorting and processing, a smaller and fragmented plastics recycling sector, the market being concentrated in a few countries, and technical challenges associated with the variety of polymers and additives.

Waste plastics often remain in the environment, posing a threat to wildlife and marine creatures. Only 15 per cent of plastic waste is recycled globally, with 25 per cent being incinerated and the remainder sent to landfill according to the report.

The report will be presented at the Global forum on Environment: Sustainable Plastic Design in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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