24-25 Jul 2024

Battery collection to be boosted by Battery Stewardship Scheme

Authorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has allowed the Battery Stewardship Council (BSC) to establish and operate a levy scheme to help manage the recycling of all types of expired batteries.

The BSC aim to use the scheme to unite battery supply chain companies in an effort to significantly reduce the volume of toxic end-of-life batteries being disposed in landfill.

The scheme is also intended to manage all types of end of life batteries, excluding automotive lead-acid batteries and batteries that are currently involved in a stewardship or recycling scheme.

Levies will be set on batteries at their point of sale, and funds generated will be used to subsidise the collection and recycling aspect.

The new scheme will be mostly funded by an annual levy that will be imposed on all imported Eligible Batteries, and will be reviewed on an annual basis. This levy will then passed on through the supply chain to consumers in a transparent manner as a visible fee, and calculated on the weight of batteries imported.

Emergence of companies, such as Envirostream Australia, who are operating a mixed-battery recycling facility, has propelled the movement made on the scheme. The company, part of Lithium Australia, has shown the production of lithium-ion battery cathodes curated from spent recycled battery metals.

Speaking on the levy, Adrian Griffin, Lithium Australia MD, said the levy on batteries will commoditise end of life batteries, all of which is currently considered waste material.

“As Australia’s only mixed battery recycler, Company subsidiary Envirostream Australia is well placed to capitalise on the Scheme” said Adrian.

“We are anticipating a significant increase in feed material for Envirostream, and the more it gets the greater the benefit for the environment.

The scheme should encourage more sustainable use of critical materials used in the manufacturing of batteries, reducing on reliance on primary production which, in some cases, relies on child labour and supply from conflict zones” he continued.

Initially, the levy will be set at four cents per equivalent battery unit, raising around $22 million annually.

The proposed levy and rebate system are likely to better align the price of batteries alongside the cost of their responsible disposal, whilst also increasing the incentive for businesses to facilitate their recycling.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said “This battery stewardship scheme has the potential to be an important tool for encouraging businesses across the battery supply chain to take responsibility for treating batteries in an environmentally responsible way”.

The ACCC has imposed a condition that requires BSC to develop a button battery safety strategy within the next year, in order to address the issue of consumers potentially storing button batteries for later recycling.

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