Daryl Moyle, Ecocycle Business Development Manager, speaks with Waste Management Review about the company’s battery recycling capabilities and recent rebrand.
Less than three per cent of all batteries purchased in Australia are recycled, with the rest ending up in landfill. According to Sustainability Victoria, this means over 14,000 tonnes of batteries are destined for landfill each year.
Australia’s performance in this space is poor, with the UK recovering just under 30 per cent and Switzerland recovering 72 per cent. Things are potentially looking up however, with a recent meeting of environment ministers endorsing the work of the Battery Stewardship Council to design a product stewardship scheme.
Battery recycling has many benefits, ranging from keeping harmful materials out of the environment, recovering non-renewable resources and ensuring used batteries don’t start fires.
Australasian mercury recovery and recycling company Ecocycle, formerly CMA Ecocycle, have recently updated their branding to highlight different business divisions, such as Ecobatt.
Daryl Moyle, Ecocycle Business Development Manager, says the revamp comes at a time when the company is continuing to invest in modern equipment and technology, specifically in the sphere of batteries.
“There are so many different products that can be recycled in the sector today, however we focus on specific products and niche markets rather than being a general waste company,” Daryl says.
“The idea is to help customers distinguish our different services, so having a specific brand like Ecobatt will help customers identify us as a battery recycler.”
According to Daryl, the Ecobatt unit is already bringing specific battery safety products to market to minimise environmental risk, including electric vehicle recovery containers to address potential battery fires.
Daryl says batteries are made up of metals, chemicals and other materials that may not seem reusable, however most elements found in batteries can, in fact, be recycled.
Ecocycle recycles all type of batteries to recover metals like lead, cadmium, nickel, steel, zinc, mercury, cobalt, lithium, silver and manganese.
“The more complex the battery chemistry gets, the more difficult it is to extract materials and the more technical the process has to be,” Daryl says.
“We’ve taken a well-researched, systematic approach to the problem, and partnered with world-leading companies to roll out proven technology to manage each step of the battery recycling process – collection, sorting and processing.”
The majority of batteries on the Australian market are alkaline batteries, such as non-rechargeable AA and AAA batteries, and therefore make up the majority of the recyclable battery waste stream. But forecasts reveal that lithium-ion batteries will make up a huge volume in years to come.
“Alkaline batteries, including paper, steel, zinc and manganese, can be easily recycled because the battery chemistry is simple to work with, however lithium ion presents a far more complex recycling problem,” Daryl says.
“Lead-acid batteries, commonly used as car batteries, also have high recycling rates of around 95 per cent. Lead acid batteries are a success story in the recycling world.”
“Ecocycle is constructing a new high-tech battery sorting plant and this will be the first of its kind in Australia and operational before the end of the year.”
The sorting plant will have the capacity to process more than 5000 tonnes of batteries each year, with the ability to identify more than 3000 battery types by chemistry, brand, size and shape.
Daryl says the facility will combine pre-sorting, automated and manual sorting and separate all types of batteries into their respective streams, whether it be alkaline and zinc, which make up the greatest proportion of battery waste, or lead acid, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride, lithium and button cell batteries.
Despite recent actions, Daryl says a lot of work still needs to be done to develop new technology to make the battery recycling process successful.
“In a world that’s increasingly reliant on batteries, recycling will become an ever-increasing source of raw materials for new batteries production,” Daryl says.
“As a specialist battery recycler, the team at Ecocycle will continue to track new developments in this space.”