Burden on local government
Currently, the responsibility and cost of managing batteries disposed of inappropriately to landfill falls to local government. This burden is exacerbated given the low recycling rate which means that high numbers are being disposed of to landfill. It is important to realise that nearly all batteries are hazardous. Although in an ideal world landfills would be lined and well maintained, this is not always the case. In QLD, for example, it has been suggested that 40% of landfills remain unlined. As a result, toxic material such as cadmium, lead, carbon black, are being leaked into soil and groundwater causing harmful emissions into the local environmental.
A further risk and significant cost arises from the flammable nature of some batteries. If lithium ion batteries are damaged or subjected to high temperatures, they can spontaneously combust. The result is fire – whether it be in a recycling collection truck, a transfer station or a landfill. The cost of managing these fires can be high and cause significant stress to local councils.