TEC Releases Plan for Battery Recycling and Reuse Crisis

Industry-led voluntary schemes will fail to address the environmental risks arising from battery disposal said Total Environment Centre today on releasing a plan for urgent regulation to establish an effective, mandatory Product Stewardship Scheme to safely collect and recycle all battery types in Australia.

"We need to act now to address the growing fire risks and waste of recyclable resources," says TEC Campaigner, Mark Zihrul.

"With over 200,000 tonnes of batteries reaching end-of-life every year, our plan highlights the failures of the current system and calls on the federal government to implement full industry coverage. We need to prevent some businesses not participating (free-riders) and ensure funding for maximum collection with mandatory recovery and recycling targets. This is the only way batteries can flow through the circular economy safely and efficiently. It includes a ban on landfilling batteries."

''The voluntary industry-led schemes, like Mobilemuster and B-cycle, have dismally low collection rates (~12%), and do not cover the majority of hazardous batteries on the market, such as those embedded in vapes, e-bikes and EVs. Enforceable regulations are required to ensure all batteries, including lead acid, EV and home storage batteries, are covered by a single scheme, rather than the voluntary, multiple schemes we now have."

"We were pleased to see the NSW EPA also recently call for action. A state-led approach could push things along," Mark said.

The Australian Council of Recycling has reported fires caused by batteries are now widespread across mixed recycling facilities, in waste and recycling trucks, and in depots. In May 2023, the CSIRO reported that there is an "urgent need to enhance collection rates to capture the embedded value of the materials that remain in a battery at end of life, minimise hazardous waste and fire risks to users and the public associated with incorrect disposal."

Learn more about this new TEC campaign and read the full report by clicking here.

You can also review the highlights by downloading our fact sheet here.

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