Federal government launches Battery Stewardship Scheme


According to Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO, the battery uptake across all sectors to support the energy transition has opened up a potential $3.1 billion lithium-ion battery recycling industry. 

“The demand for lithium-ion batteries is increasing globally, fuelled by the increasing electrification of transport and the renewable energy generation storage sector,” said Dr Anand Bhatt, lead author of the Australian Landscape for Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling and Reuse in 2020 report.

“This growth is leading to an emerging problem of end-of-life waste management,” Bhatt continued. Indeed, CSIRO research showed that lithium-ion battery waste is growing by 20% a year and could exceed 100,000 tonnes by 2036.

According to Jo Staines, Enterprise Fellow at the University of Melbourne and program lead for the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC), incorrect disposal is also a missed economic opportunity. “Lithium-ion batteries contain valuable battery metals and materials that should be recycled and reused,” Staines said. According to the FBICRC this lost value could translate from a $603 million to $3.1 billion opportunity. If recycled, 95 per cent of materials can be turned into new batteries or used in other high value industries.

However, as Evans said in a statement, “Our current battery recycling rate is just not good enough. Accreditation of the scheme gives both the public and industry assurance that the scheme aligns with Australia’s circular economy principles.” 

“I’m putting all battery importers and retailers on notice that the government expects them to participate in the scheme to meet their recycling and waste reduction obligations,” continued Evans. 

However, the government’s statement made no mention of the residential or large-scale energy storage sector, preferring to focus on recovering and recycling “button batteries and the batteries we all routinely find ourselves replacing as consumers including AAs and AAAs.” 

Libby Chaplin, CEO of the Battery Stewardship Council (BSC) which will administer the Battery Stewardship Scheme, said this marks a pivotal step in the BSC’s journey towards launching a national collection network by January 2022. 

“The BSC is very pleased with the announcement from the Australian government that our application for accrediation has been successful. This will give confidence to the battery collection and recycling industry to invest in infrastructure for collection and processing. 

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