Australia could be the future of battery recycling – report

Australia could lead the world in lithium-ion battery recycling, according to a new report.

The ‘Lithium battery recycling in Australia’ report says a new battery recycling industry could be possible to reuse and recycle Australia’s annual 3300 tonnes of lithium-ion battery waste.

It looks at the growing demand for lithium-ion technology, which is currently being used in large amounts of electronics and household devices.

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The report says an effective recycling industry could also stabilise global lithium supplies to meet consumer demand.

The majority of Australia’s battery waste is shipped overseas, with the rest being sent to landfill, creating fire and environmental risks. It is a growing waste, increasing by 20 per cent each year and could exceed 100,000 tonnes by 2036.

Only 2 per cent of Australia’s lithium-ion battery waste is currently recycled, however 95 per cent of the components can be turned into new batteries or used in other industries.

In comparison, of the 150,000 tonnes of lead-acid batteries sold in 2010, 98 per cent were recycled.

CSIRO research is supporting recycling efforts, with research underway on processes for recovery of metals and materials, development of new battery materials, and support for the circular economy around battery reuse and recycling.

CSIRO battery research leader Anand Bhatt said Australia must responsibly manage its use of lithium-ion technology in support of a clean energy future.

“The value for Australia is three-fold. We can draw additional value from existing materials, minimise impact on our environment, and also catalyse a new industry in lithium-ion re-use/recycling,” Dr Bhatt said.

Dr Bhatt and his team are working with industry to develop processes that can support the transition to domestic recycling of lithium-ion batteries.

“The development of processes to effectively and efficiently recycle these batteries can generate a new industry in Australia. Further, effective recycling of lithium batteries can offset the current concerns around lithium security,” Dr Bhatt said.

Australian Battery Recycling Initiative CEO Libby Chaplin said the report came at a critical time.

“Currently we are racing towards a world where lithium batteries are a very big part of our energy supply, yet we have some real work to do to ensure we are able to recycle the end product once it has reached its use by date,” Ms Chaplin said.

“The CSIRO report provides critical information at an opportune time given the discussions around how to shape a product stewardship scheme for the energy storage sector.”

Building a more resilient sector: Sustainability Victoria

Waste Management Review speaks to Stan Krpan, Chief Executive Officer at Sustainability Victoria, about the organisation’s future approach to data capture, Victoria’s e-waste ban to landfill and the health of the waste sector.

Read moreBuilding a more resilient sector: Sustainability Victoria

Sustainability Victoria launch e-waste campaign ahead of ban

In the lead up to Victoria’s ban on e-waste to landfill, the state government has launched a $1.5 million public education and awareness campaign.

The campaign aims to help Victorians better understand e-waste and reduce the amount sent to landfill ahead of the 1 July 2019 ban.

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Regulatory measures were made in late June to update existing statutory policies to include e-waste as a material banned from landfill and an amendment which specifies how it should be managed safely.

Current practices show that at least 90 per cent of a computer, television or mobile phone can be recovered and reused.

Victoria currently has a range of collection points for e-waste, but there is the potential to develop new collection sites and expand the range of electrical, electronic and battery powered items to be recycled.

Managers of e-waste in Victoria have a year to adapt to the new regulatory measures and gives time for Victoria’s e-waste collection network to be operational.

Victorian councils can also apply for $15 million in grants to upgrade or build collection and storage facilities in 130 areas where need has been identified. Funding applications close 14 September.

Sustainability Victoria acting CEO Jonathan Leake said Electronic waste is growing up to three times faster than general municipal waste in Australia.

“Australians are high users of technology and among the largest generators of e-waste in the world,” he said.

“It’s estimated the country’s e-waste will increase more than 60 percent, to a predicted 223,000 tonnes in 2023–24.”

“Recycling captures valuable metals like copper, silver, gold, aluminium and other metals, as well as plastics and glass so they can be re-used in the next wave of technology rather than mining or making new materials,” Mr Leake said.

War on Waste season 2 focus on e-waste and recycling crisis

Q&A War on Waste episode to feature WMAA

The ABC’s War on Waste will return on Tuesday, July 24, to tackle new targets including plastic water bottles, straws, e-waste and furniture waste.

The series will also explore previous topics such as food waste and the recycling crisis.

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More than 4.3 million viewers watched the original series in 2017, which sparked one of the ABC’s most successful social media campaigns with a video on dumping edible bananas reaching 20 million views.

The series inspired Australians to get involved about waste management, with the Keep Cup crashing and sales rising by 400 per cent after the series, Woolworth and Coles announced lightweight plastic bags in the series, and reusable coffee cup scheme Responsible Cafes went from having 420 cafes to 1050 a week after the broadcast.

Craig Reucassel returns as host and aims to expose the effects of e-waste from discarded laptops, mobile phones and electronic goods in landfill.

ABC ME is also launching a new eight-episode series for children called Project Planet that aims to demonstrate how everyone can make a difference for sustainability.

ABC Director of Entertainment & Specialist David Anderson said War on Waste highlights the ABC’s capacity to spark national conversations and drive community action and social change.

“The distinctively ABC series empowers people to take immediate steps to reduce their consumption of plastic and electronic goods, and wastage of coffee cups and food. Waste is a universal issue, it impacts everyone,” he said.

Australia’s first lithium battery recycling plant opens

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.

Victorian Government announces $16.5 million e-waste investment

The Victorian Government has announced a $16.5 million investment to help upgrade more than 130 e‑waste collection and storage sites across Victoria.

It comes as the Victorian Government seeks to implement its ban on e-waste to landfill. The government released a policy impact statement for consultation last October. It is now responding to feedback to develop a preferred policy package. Non-regulatory measures will be implemented until June 2019, with a legislative process to occur between now and June. Regulatory measures are scheduled to be implemented from July 2018, with a commencement date of 1 July, 2019.

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Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas this week visited Australia’s first lithium and hand-held battery recycling facility at Envirostream Australia in Gisborne.

Sustainability Victoria is rolling out a state government $16.5 million program which includes $15 million to help councils and state government entities upgrade e-waste collection facilities and a $1.5 million awareness campaign to educate Victorians about e-waste.

Starting the ban mid next year aims to allow extra time for new infrastructure to be in place, for the statewide education campaign to reach more people, and for those managing e-waste – particularly local councils – to prepare for the new arrangements.

The amount of e-waste generated in Victoria is projected to increase from 109,000 tonnes in 2015 to approximately 256,000 tonnes in 2035.

The upgrades will ensure 98 per cent of Victorians in metropolitan areas will be within a 20-minute drive of an e-waste disposal point, and 98 per cent of Victorians in regional areas will be within a 30-minute drive of an e-waste disposal point.

World first e-waste recycling microfactory launches at UNSW

A world first microfactory capable of transforming components from e-waste which may reduce the amount sent to landfill has been launched at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

The microfactory uses technology developed after extensive research at UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT Centre) and is able to reduce the issue of e-waste from discarded phones and laptops causing environmental harm when sent to landfill.

NSW Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton said it was exciting to see new technological innovations that could transform waste management and recycling.

“I am very pleased to launch the UNSW e-waste microfactory today, a NSW home-grown solution to the waste challenges facing communities all over the world,” Ms Upton said.

“It is exciting to see innovations such as this prototype microfactory and the potential they have to reduce waste and provide a boost to both the waste management and manufacturing industries in NSW,” Ms Upton said.

The micro factory is able to operate on a site as small as 50 square metres and can be located at anywhere waste is stockpiled. It functions as a series of machines and devices that use technology to perform one or more functions in the reforming of waste products.

The UNSW microfactory is able to reform computers, mobile phones and printers, and has a number of modules for the process. The devices are first broken down, then a robot identifies useful parts, which sends them to a small furnace which transforms them into valuable resources using precise temperatures and processes developed by extensive research.

SMaRT Centre Director Professor Veena Sahajwalla said the e-waste microfactory was the first of a series of microfactories under development and in testing at UNSW that can also turn many types of consumer waste streams such as glass, plastic and timber into commercial materials and products.

An example of this is turning computer circuit boards into valuable metal allows such as copper and tine. Glass from devices can also be converted into micrometrical used in industrial grade ceramics and plastic filaments for 3D printing.

“Our e-waste microfactory and another under development for other consumer waste types offer a cost-effective solution to one of the greatest environmental challenges of our age, while delivering new job opportunities to our cities but importantly to our rural and regional areas, too,” Dr Sahajwalla said.

“Using our green manufacturing technologies, these microfactories can transform waste where it is stockpiled and created, enabling local businesses and communities to not only tackle local waste problems but to develop a commercial opportunity from the valuable materials that are created.”

Dr Sahajwalla said microfactories presented a solution to burning and burying waste items that contain materials which can be transformed into value-added substances and products to meet existing and new industry and consumer demands. This was a truly sustainable solution to our growing waste problem which also offers economic benefits available to local communities, she said.

“We have proven you can transform just about anything at the micro-level and transform waste streams into value-added products. For example, instead of looking at plastics as just a nuisance, we’ve shown scientifically that you can generate materials from that waste stream to create smart filaments for 3D printing,” she said.

“These microfactories can transform the manufacturing landscape, especially in remote locations where typically the logistics of having waste transported or processed are prohibitively expensive. This is especially beneficial for the island markets and the remote and regional regions of the country.”

The technology was developed with support from the Australian Research Council and is now in partnership with a number of businesses including e-waste recycler TES, mining manufacturer Moly-cop and spectacle company Dresden.

The SMaRT Centre is expanding its partnerships with industry, investors and local councils. The centre aims to commercialise and create incentives for the industry to use this technology and to encourage sustainable behaviours.

New CEO for Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform

Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform (ANZRP) has appointed a new chief executive officer.

Warren Overton has replaced outgoing CEO Carmel Dollisson. Mr Overton brings more than 20 years’ experience in sustainability, including executive roles in business, industry associations and government. Most recently, he served as Director, Business and Built Environment at Sustainability Victoria. Before then he was Co-Founder and Managing Director of Viridis, a national sustainability consulting business operating in four states.

“The board is very pleased to have Warren joining ANZRP. His exceptional track record in sustainability places us in a very good position to build on the strong foundations that Carmel and her team have built since ANZRP’s inception,” said ANZRP Chairman Mark Mackay.

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Carmel Dollisson announced her intention to step down from the CEO role late 2017, in order to take a well-earned break before undertaking some new challenges.

Under Ms Dollisson’s leadership, ANZRP has grown from its modest beginnings in 2011 to become the largest Co-regulatory Arrangement under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, established by the Federal Government under the Product Stewardship Act 2011 as an industry-funded scheme for the safe and responsible recycling of e-waste.

The board sees one of Mr Overton’s main priorities as leading ANZRP through the final stages and aftermath of the current Regulatory Review of the Product Stewardship Act, and to drive further expansion of the company’s mission to be a leading product stewardship partner, recognised both locally and globally.

“I’m delighted to be joining ANZRP at this vital time in the company’s evolution. Carmel’s exceptional work has put us in a great position to expand our operations to achieve the dual outcomes of lower costs to our member companies and better recycling outcomes for the Australian public,” said Mr Overton said.

“In terms of our core program, it’s very much business as usual, as TechCollect now operates as a well-oiled machine. But there’s a great deal more we’re planning to do through our product stewardship expertise and credentials.”

Ms Dollisson said she is delighted to be leaving ANZRP in good hands.

“This business has been my passion for more than six years, and it’s not going to be easy to leave it behind. I’m reassured by the work the board has undertaken in securing a new CEO, and I look forward to working closely with Warren during the transition period,” she said.

Ms Dollisson will remain with ANZRP until late March to ensure a smooth handover.

The ANZRP Board comprises representatives from member companies Canon, Fuji-Xerox, Dell, HP and Toshiba, together with three independent directors.

New e-waste processing centre to open in Victoria

The Victorian Government has invested in a new e-waste processing centre in Melbourne’s outer south-east.

The new facility, located in the suburb of Officer, is expected to process 1000 tonnes of e-waste in the first year with capacity to divert 5000 tonnes from landfill.

The state government has provided $500,000 to Social Enterprise Outlook Environmental to build a new 1,000 square metre shed on land bought from Places Victoria.

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E-waste includes everything from old mobile phones, computers and related equipment, audio devices, refrigerators and other white goods, hair driers, TVs, heaters, and air-conditioners.

The new facility will receive discarded electronics, which are stripped of components for reprocessing into new technology or sold on the second hand goods market.

Moving Outlook’s e-waste operations to Officer from Pakenham expands its operation from existing facilities at Mornington, Darebin and Hampton Park.

In 2014 around 109,000 tonnes of e-waste entered Victoria’s waste and recovery system, with projections it will be more than 250,000 tonnes by 2035.

The Victorian Government plans to ban e-waste from landfill and submissions can be made on its website.

 

The City of Sydney to trial weekly e-waste pickups

The City of Sydney will trial separate weekly residential rubbish collections for food waste and textiles and introduce weekly e-waste pickups.

It says the plan is part of the “most comprehensive strategy” to tackle residential waste in Australia.

Council unanimously approved the collections as part of its new Leave Nothing to Waste strategy. The council said residents and businesses strongly supported its ambitious target of zero waste to landfill when the strategy was open for comment earlier this year.

The new services include a trial of residential food waste collection – targeted groups of residents can opt-in to have their food waste collected separately and taken to a facility. From there, it will be converted into high grade compost or energy. The services also include clothing and textiles collection from apartment buildings, where residents will be able to throw all their old clothing in a communal waste bin, which will then be collected and recycled. A weekly kerbside electronic waste collection will also be introduced and residents will be able to book in a free pick-up each week, with their old electronics taken to a facility where precious minerals and materials will be collected and reused. Finally, the plan includes a community drop-off centre for problem waste streams such as gas bottles, paints and chemicals.

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Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the plan would set a new benchmark for residential waste collection across the country.

“Australians are becoming increasingly concerned about where their rubbish ends up, which is why our new waste strategy has been so well received,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Our residents generate close to 65,000 tonnes of waste every year – and while 69 per cent is now diverted from landfill, we’re now taking practical steps to increase that to 90 per cent by 2030.

Mayor Moore said cheap clothing and fast fashion has led to a sharp growth in textile waste. He said more than five per cent of the average red bin is made up of clothing.

“Our textiles collection trial will seek to solve this waste stream, with separate clothing bins to become a feature of bin rooms in many apartment buildings across the city.”

“Although we had broad support for all the measures we’ve proposed, our residents have shown great interest in the food waste trial, which we will strive to get up and running over the next two years.

“Food waste makes up one third of the average red bin and can be converted into a valuable resource. Some of our residents have already taken matters into their own hands.”

As a result of feedback from community consultation, the council will also investigate including soft plastics on the list of items to be accepted at the community waste drop-off centre.

“The ABC’s War on Waste program put the spotlight on how harmful soft plastics can be. Residents and businesses have asked us to look at how the City can help keep soft plastics such as shopping bags out of landfill and waterways.

“We will continue to pressure the NSW Government to ban the plastic bag,” the Lord Mayor said.

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