Battery Stewardship Documents

Battery Stewardship: if not now, when?

11 May 2021 – written by Libby Chaplin and published by Inside Waste

A 2018 CSIRO report titled Lithium Battery Recycling in Australia has identified that Australian lithium ion battery (LIB) waste is growing at a rate of over 20 per cent per annum. In 2016, 3,300 tonnes of LIB waste was generated but only 2 per cent of this was collected and recycled. LIB waste generation is forecasted to grow to between 100,000 to 188,000 tonnes by 2036.

The consequences of inaction on battery recycling is unthinkable. The time to act is now and the Battery Stewardship Council (BSC) is set to disrupt the status quo.

The BSC was formed in 2018 with the support of the State and Federal Environment Ministers to establish a Product Stewardship Scheme to recycle end of life batteries. The Scheme has been designed by industry and received ACCC authorisation in September 2020. The BSC is poised to move into the operational development phase in 2021 with the Scheme introduction slated for later in the year.

BSC CEO, Libby Chaplin says, “The Scheme has a unique design, drawing on the principles of shared responsibility, fair and equitable funding, transparency, and accountability and is designed to deliver safe environmental outcomes.”

Ms Chaplin states, “we have worked closely with the battery supply chain to design the Scheme and the support to date from importers, retailers, industry associations, recyclers, and Government has been fantastic.”

All batteries are included within the Scheme except for those batteries already covered by a current Product Stewardship Scheme or those that already have an end-of-life strategy.

The Scheme operation will be funded via a Levy on battery imports that will be made visible to the consumer.  Those funds collected by the Levy will be used by the BSC to provide rebates to authorised organisations providing collection, sorting and recycling services for end of life batteries.

“Operational funding for the Scheme will come from battery importers” says Ms Chaplin. “We have seen a strong turnout from battery importers to participate and join the BSC, signalling their commitment to fund the Scheme.”

Prominent battery brands such as Energizer, Duracell, Powercell and Panasonic have joined the BSC as have well know electronics brands Canon and Sony. The power tool industry has also indicated their participation with brands such as Bosch, Husqvarna, Milwaukee, Ryobi, AEG, Festool, Chervon, and Makita all joining the BSC and other power tool brands are currently in discussion with the BSC.

“Pilot recycling projects undertaken in 2017 highlighted a strong consumer desire to recycle used batteries” said Ms Chaplin. “The challenge however was the lack of knowledge as to where they can take their batteries for recycling. The Scheme therefore has a strong focus on the expansion of collection points and consumer education to drive the growth of battery collection.”

Currently, the collection of used batteries is through local Government initiatives, other Product Stewardship Schemes, and retailer takeback programs. However, a key element of the BSC Scheme Design is to leverage existing collection points and promote the establishment of new collection points to successfully increase the recycling rate of used batteries. The BSC already has a number of retailers who have joined the Scheme such as JB HiFi, Officeworks, and Harvey Norman. Other retailers and major supermarket brands are currently in discussion with the BSC and a number are considering the role out of new battery collection facilities at their premises.

“The safety of humans and environmentally sound recycling practices are of paramount concern for the BSC” said Ms Chaplin. “The BSC will develop accreditation procedures to ensure collection, transportation, sorting and recycling practices are performed to the highest standards.”

The recycling industry has been deeply involved with the BSC since its inception. Recyclers such as Sell & Parker, Resource, Total Green Recycling, EcoCycle, Envirostream, Tes-amm, and E-Cycle have all joined the BSC and currently provide services for the recycling on end-of-life batteries.

Recycling end-of-life batteries is a whole of community issue and it needs to be addressed by all participants in the supply chain. Used batteries can no longer continue to go to landfill and sending used batteries offshore for reprocessing is a loss of a valuable resource to the Australian economy.

The opportunity exists to establish new industries and develop a supply of secondary minerals for the use in manufacture that is derived from the recycling of batteries used in Australia.

For organisations who joins the BSC it signals to the community that they support the removal of e-waste from landfill, and the recovery of valuable resources for the growth of an Australian export opportunity, not just now, but for generations to come.

If you want to know more about the BSC or wish to join the Scheme visit their website If not now, when?


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