A recent of meeting of Environment Ministers has endorsed the work the Battery Stewardship Council (BSC) as a priority under the National Waste Policy, according to a statement from the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI).
In a letter to ABRI, Acting Chief of Staff for the Queensland Environment Minister Hannah Jackson said there was an agreement from all jurisdictions that the scope of the proposed battery stewardship scheme would be expanded to cover all batteries, including energy storage and non-rechargeable batteries.
“This is a pivotal moment for the scheme as it enables much needed funding to flow through the QLD Environment Department on behalf of all jurisdictions,” the statement reads.
“This will enable the BSC to conduct planned consultation with members to refine the proposed approach.”
Of the 400 million batteries that enter the Australian market each year, less than three per cent of non-car batteries are recycled in Australia, according to a 2014 trend analysis and market assessment report, prepared on behalf of the National Environment Protection Council Service Corporation.
A National Waste Policy Action Plan is currently being prepared, with the scheme listed for introduction by 2022.
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.
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.
The Victorian Government has announced it will ban e-waste to landfill on 1 July, 2019. William Arnott investigates how the ban will affect the state and what it means for the industry and local government. Read more