Along with the lifesaving message to change the batteries in your smoke alarm this year, Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley is urging households to take an extra safety step and recycle the batteries.
CMA Ecocycle is taking its role as an e-waste recycler a step further with what is an Australia-first solution to contain and control electric vehicle fires. Read more
The Battery Stewardship Council has released a briefing note on the process of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) authorisation for a voluntary battery stewardship scheme.
A Battery Reference Group was established in 2014 to design a scheme for handheld batteries. In 2015, the focus shifted from all handheld batteries to rechargeable batteries only.
However, the Battery Reference Group and the Battery Industry Working Group were reconfigured into the Battery Stewardship Council in 2018 to ensure that both government and industry representatives were involved in the design. The scope is now all batteries that are subject to market failure, with lead acid batteries not included. Following round one of consultation, it is proposed that all handheld batteries will be included in the scheme.
Some of the key scheme features in draft mode are a shared responsibility with government support for expansion in processing and best practice technology, infrastructure funding and improved safety, quality, import controls and enforcement. It also aims to improve the economics of battery recycling, a levy on imports of up to $0.03 per equivalent battery unit and an Equivalent Battery Unit to be set at 24 grams for handheld batteries under five kilograms. Transparency would be assured through a not-for-profit battery stewardship organisation with board oversight and annual benefits.
The briefing note explains that the ACCC process provides a tool for industry to fund the scheme and control free riders. Battery Stewardship Council members are currently in a consultation period, which will be followed by targeted public consultation and then ACCC application.
“One feature of the authorisation model which is important for industry to be aware of, is that the scheme itself remains voluntary in the sense that its operations are essentially self-regulated.
“It is only those activities considered anti-competitive that are ‘regulated’ by the ACCC,” it says.
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ACCC authorisation will provide an exemption from anti-competitive behaviour rules and allow competitors to set a levy or fee and use market levels to control so-called free riders.
The ACCC will then use the details of the scheme design to determine a public benefit from it which can be applied to a number of activities. These include collective bargaining, where two or more competitors negotiate terms and conditions with a customer or supplier, codes of conduct, industry levies which can be used to fund product stewardship arrangement and certain joint ventures or alliances. The latest briefing note says the proposed battery stewardship could potentially encompass all of the above.
With less than 10 per cent of batteries sold in Australia each year recycled, e-waste recyclers CMA Ecocycle are seeking to reshape the landscape dramatically.
The benefits of recycling batteries go beyond environmental, with a number of financial benefits that can also be gained from doing so. CMA Ecocycle below highlight five of the benefits that come with battery recycling.
- Reduced landfill costs
The greater the volume of waste sent for recycling, the lower the landfill costs a business needs to pay. Victoria’s ban on e-waste to landfill will also encourage more businesses to think twice about sending their batteries to landfill as if the policy is properly policed, businesses could face hefty fines for doing the wrong thing.
- A valued commodity
Lead acid is currently in demand, with lead, acid and plastic all easily and cheaply recycled. At present, most other types of batteries incur a net cost but this could change with more efficient collection programs and advances in recycling technology.
- Reduced future costs
Batteries contain valuable materials such as cobalt, manganese and lithium – finite resources subject to the laws of supply and demand. With demand soaring, dumping batteries removes these materials from the supply side of the equation while recycling them keeps them in circulation. Increasing the supply means lowering resource prices that will flow through to lower new battery prices.
- Reduced recruitment and training costs
Running visible recycling programs is one way of standing out from the crowd and good corporate social responsibility may help retain staff. Companies that rank poorly on environmental performance may face higher staff turnover and this will only lead to higher recruitment and training costs.
Reaping the many financial benefits of battery recycling is easier than you might think.
CMA Ecocycle provides battery collection and recycling solutions ranging from two litre collection buckets up to the truckload.
To get started, all you need to do is call CMA Ecocycle on 1300 32 62 92, or head to their website and fill in a form.
CMA Ecocycle has spent the past 18 months planning a first-of-its-kind battery recycling plant set to become a critical part of Victoria’s e-waste recycling infrastructure network.
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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
Australia’s first lithium battery recycling plant has opened in Victoria in the lead up to the state’s ban on sending e-waste to landfill.
Envirostream Australia has opened its $2 million facility at New Gisborne, north of Melbourne and recycled 240,000 kilograms of batteries last year.
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Before the facility was opened, most lithium batteries were sent overseas for recycling. Victoria’s e-waste is projected to rise from 109,000 tonnes in 2015 to about 256,000 tonnes by 2035.
The Victorian government announced an election commitment to enact a ban on sending e-waste to landfill, which takes effect on 1 July 2019. More on the government announcement here.
Sustainability Victoria is rolling out $16.5 million e-waste infrastructure development and awareness program to prepare for the ban.
This includes $15 million in grants to Victorian councils and state government entities to upgrade infrastructure at more than 130 collection sites and a $1.5 million awareness campaign to educate Victorians about how to properly dispose of e-waste.
The upgrades aim to ensure 98 per cent of Melburnians are within a 20-minute drive of an e-waste disposal point, and regional Victorians are within a 30-minute drive of one.
Envirostream received $40,000 from Sustainability Victoria to buy equipment to increase the recovery of valuable materials in batteries.
The 2017 Commodity Research Book Battery Raw Material Review says global consumption of lithium carbonate is expected to grow from 184,000 tonnes in 2015 to 534,000 tonnes in 2025, chiefly through the rapid adoption of electric vehicles, e-bikes and energy storage systems.
Sustainability Victoria Chief Executive Officer Stan Kpran said Envirostream Australia is one of the country’s trailblazers in reprocessing electronic waste and is helping to keep valuable resources out of landfills.
“Envirostream is showing how opportunities can be developed in Australia’s resource recovery sector, create jobs in regional communities and capture valuable chemicals, copper, steel, nickel, lithium, other metals and graphene captured so they can be sent to South Korea to be used in new batteries,” Mr Kpran said.
“Only three per cent of Australian batteries are currently recovered. It’s the lowest rate in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).”
Envirostream Director Andrew McKenzie said recycling batteries at New Gisborne would create five new jobs over the next year and help build Victoria’s recycling capacity.
“We have a nationally coordinated partnership to increase Australia’s low recovery rates of batteries and mobile phones and want to make sure these recoverable resources are not just thrown away or sent offshore for recycling,” Mr McKenzie said.
“We’re working with Planet Ark and MobileMuster to increase used mobile phone and battery recovery and to educate the community about the need to recycle electronic waste onshore.”
“We’re in an increasingly mobile world. Lithium batteries are now the dominant mode of energy storage for domestic and industrial uses, and like other e-waste, their use is growing fast,” he said.
Pictured: Sean O’Malley from Planet Ark, Spiro Kalos from Mobile Muster, Andrew McKenzie and John Polhill from Envirostream and Sustainability Victoria’s Shannon Smyth.
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More than 90 per cent of dead batteries, which equates to hundreds of thousands a year, are ending up in landfill, according to CMA Ecocycle. The material only adds to Australia’s waste problem and increases the risk of toxic chemicals polluting the environment. It’s also a waste of valuable and reusable resources.
CMA Ecocycle recycles all types of batteries, including lead acid, alkaline batteries, AA, AAA, C&D, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride and lithium ion and button cell. The organisation is able to safely recover mercury, lead, silver, nickel, cadmium, steel and plastic.
For businesses generating larger volumes of battery waste, including enough to fill a two-litre container each year, the organisation offers a tailor-made solution to suit the battery waste stream. For smaller cell-type and button batteries, this may include a large collection bucket. Other options are available as required for larger batteries such as car batteries.
In the case of battery collection buckets, a single charge covers delivery, pickup and recycling costs. Bins are charged according to bin capacity (additional charges may apply outside metropolitan area), minus any payment for the scrap value of the batteries. In the case of car batteries, businesses may end up with cash in hand.
CMA Ecocycle delivers the empty collection buckets or bins to a business’ door, ready to start collecting their batteries for recycling. Once the buckets or bins are full, CMA Ecocycle can be called to arrange pickup.