Ecocycle Business Development Manager, Mr Daryl Moyle, recently presented to the battery recycling industry at a Lighting Council of Australia (LCA) hosted panel discussion.
The focus of the discussion was on how to lift the rate of battery recycling under the LCA’s industry-led battery recycling program Exitcycle.
The initiative aims to increase the recycling rate of batteries from emergency lighting in commercial buildings.
Currently, less than 10 per cent of batteries removed from these lights are recycled and Exitcycle aims to boost this rate to at least 95 per cent.
The audience included electrical contractors and wholesalers, as well as representatives of local councils and state government.
When it comes to battery recycling, Australia has the lowest rate amongst wealthy nations, while Belgium leads the way with 75 per cent of its expired batteries being recycled.
Mr Moyle said the discussion revealed several issues that contribute to the low recycling rate:
- The high cost of labour versus the low cost of product, which acts as a disincentive to recycle
- With a lack of access to collection points, contractors find it difficult and costly to incorporate the drop-off of replaced batteries into their routines
- There is a general lack of awareness by facilities managers, electrical contractors and wholesalers about the environmental and health threats posed by battery waste
- The Exitcycle program is currently restricted to Queensland.
Mr Moyle said Ecocycle is helping electrical wholesalers get involved in battery collection and shared some solutions.
“If we can tie collection points into supply chains we solve the inconvenience problem. Spent batteries can be dropped off at the same time as replacements are purchased,” he said.
New products that last longer and make it quicker and easier to change batteries will help to reduce labour costs.
However, Mr Moyle said the main focus needs to be on education and collection.
“Education is required across the whole community. Recyclers and councils are key players in encouraging battery recycling, but we also need good product stewardship programs such as the one that the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI) is working on.”
Heading in the right direction
With this in mind, Mr Moyle counts the Exitcycle panel discussion as a success.
“People turned up, they asked good questions and went away with information that will equip them to take concrete action on battery recycling,” he said.
“Ecocycle would welcome the opportunity to contribute to more of these panel events, and as members of ABRI we’ll raise the issue of putting together a road show on battery recycling that can tour Australia.”