The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has authorised the Battery Stewardship Council to establish and operate a levy scheme to manage the recycling of all types of expired batteries.
The Battery Stewardship Council’s (BSC) intention with the Scheme is to unite battery supply chain companies in efforts to significantly reduce the volume of toxic end-of-life (EOL) batteries being disposed of as waste to landfill.
The scheme is intended to manage all types of end of life batteries except for automotive lead-acid batteries and batteries that are currently included in a stewardship or recycling scheme.
It will impose a levy on batteries at their point of sale, with the funds generated used to subsidise their collection and recycling.
The Scheme will be primarily funded by imposing an annual levy on all imported Eligible Batteries, will be reviewed annually. The levy, which will be passed on through the supply chain to consumers in a transparent manner as a visible fee, will be calculated on the weight of batteries imported.
Movement on the scheme has become possible with the emergence of companies such as Envirostream Australia which is operating a mixed-battery recycling facility in Melbourne.
Envirostream, part of Lithium Australia, has demonstrated the production of lithium-ion battery cathodes from spent recycled battery metals.
Lithium Australia MD Adrian Griffin said the levy on batteries will commoditise EOL batteries, that is currently considered waste material.
“As Australia’s only mixed battery recycler, Company subsidiary Envirostream Australia is well placed to capitalise on the Scheme,” he said.
“We are anticipating a significant increase in feed material for Envirostream, and the more it gets the greater the benefit for the environment,
“The scheme should encourage more sustainable use of critical materials used in the manufacture of batteries, reducing reliance on primary production which, in some cases, relies on child labour and supply from conflict zones.”
The levy will initially be set at four cents per equivalent battery unit and will raise about $22 million annually.
The levy and rebate system proposed under the Scheme are likely to better align the price of batteries with the cost of their responsible disposal while increasing the incentive for businesses to facilitate their recycling.
“This battery stewardship scheme has the potential to be an important tool for encouraging businesses across the battery supply chain to take responsibility for treating batteries in an environmentally responsible way,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
In order to address this issue of consumers potentially storing button batteries for later recycling, the ACCC has imposed a condition requiring BSC to develop a button battery safety strategy within 12 months.
The ACCC has granted authorisation until 26 September 2025.