The announcement by Officeworks that it has ceased collecting used batteries on behalf of B-cycle casts serious doubt on the effectiveness of the voluntary industry program. 

"We understand there are insurance issues arising out of safety concerns. Insurers know risks.  This is not surprising given the toxic and flammable chemicals involved.  Other collection sites could likely experience the same issues. It calls into question what has always been a weak collection and recycling scheme,’’ said Mark Zihrul, TEC Campaigner.

B-cycle is an industry led, voluntary product stewardship scheme, with unmanned battery collection boxes in almost 5000 locations across Australia, predominantly located outside supermarkets and retail stores.  B-cycle does not have an obligation to publicly report on the number, frequency, or severity of battery fires that occur at collection locations, during collection sorting or recycling of batteries under its scheme.

With 200,000 tonnes of batteries reaching end of life every year, TEC is calling for a mandatory product stewardship scheme to cover all batteries and producers, under federal legislation with meaningful targets, a ban on landfilling, effective collection, recycling and reuse systems and public reporting requirements for transparency.

You can read more about our report and recommendations here.

In January 2024, The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR), reported batteries cause at least three fires in recycling streams every day and indicated the real number of fires was suspected to be much higher due to under-reporting.

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