The NSW Environmental Trust has awarded a grant to the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI) has received a grant from for a project to investigate alternative way to recycle button and coin cell batteries.
The ABRI-led ‘New business models for battery recycling’ venture is being run in collaboration with several partners, including Institute of Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the University of Technology Sydney and the Hearing Care Industry Association.
ABRI has also received support for the project from Officeworks, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Consumer Electronics Suppliers Association (CESA).
In 2012/13, around 342,000,000 button and coin cells were sold in Australia. The recycling rate for used handheld batteries is less than 3%, so the vast majority of these end up in landfill. Batteries are a problem waste because they contaminate recycling streams, while many disc batteries still contain small amounts of mercury.
Button and coin cells are also a serious safety hazard. Around five children present to an emergency department each week in Australia with an injury related to a button or coin cell. Ingestion can be fatal or cause serious injury due to the chemical reaction caused by residual charge in the battery.
In his report into the death of Summer Steer,who died in 2013 after swallowing a lithium button battery, the Queensland Coroner called for a national disposal/recycling system for all handheld batteries.
The aims of this pilot include design, production and trialling of various collection units (including a child-safe container) and collection channels for used batteries. ABRI will also look to develop new business models for battery recycling, including funding options.