Approximately 400 million handheld batteries weighing 5kg or less were sold in Australia in 2012-13. For the same time period, 14,703 tonnes of batteries were disposed of and 403 tonnes were collected for recycling. Recovery rates for sealed lead acid, nickel cadmium, lithium primary and nickel metal hydride batteries were all in the 4.4 – 5.5 per cent range, while the recovery rate for alkaline and zinc carbon batteries was estimated at 1.6 per cent.
Batteries were collected through different channels including commercial collections (139 tonnes), retail store drop-off (111 tonnes), e-waste collections (45 tonnes), household hazardous waste collections (16 tonnes) and other recovery routes (91 tonnes). The rest (14,345 tonnes) were disposed to landfill.
On a unit number basis, 90 per cent of the batteries sales proposed to be subject to the Australian product stewardship scheme are single‐use batteries and 10% are rechargeable batteries. On a weight basis, 50% are single‐use and 50% are rechargeable.
Consumption trends indicate that lithium ion batteries will continue to grow as a proportion of all battery sales, increasing from around 24 per cent in 2013 to 33 per cent in 2020.
The report, ‘Study into market share and stocks and flows of handheld batteries in Australia’, was commissioned by the Battery Implementation Working Group (BIWG) on behalf of Australian governments to assist in developing a national battery product stewardship scheme for Australia. Environment Ministers agreed on the need to include end-of-life handheld batteries and waste paint in the Standing Council on Environment and Water’s work plan. The Australian Government identified handheld batteries as priority products potentially covered under Australia’s Product Stewardship Act in 2013 and reaffirmed their designation in 2014.
The report is available to GlobalPSC members in the Knowledge Base, under the Batteries tab.