Australia’s commercial and public buildings are home to about 30 million emergency exit lights.
Most of these rely on nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries, along with smaller numbers of nickel metal hydride and sealed lead acid batteries.
An estimated five million Ni-Cd batteries, containing 90 tonnes of the toxic heavy metal cadmium, are dumped in landfill every year.
To address this problem the Lighting Council of Australia, with the support of the Queensland government, has relaunched its Exitcycle program.
This is a voluntary product stewardship initiative that seeks to have building owners or managers commit to recycling at least 95% (and preferably 100%) of their end-of-life emergency and exit lighting batteries.
Exitcycle also enrols ‘facilitators’ – battery collectors and recyclers, electrical contractors, governments and media partners – who commit to promoting the scheme to commercial users of exit lighting.
Exitcycle is based on the successful FluoroCycle scheme also run by the Lighting Council.
A pilot scheme ran for 12 months from October 2015, and now that the results of that trial have been digested Exitcycle is ready to really take off.
Recyclers, senior representatives of the Department of the Environment and Science, and members of the lighting industry attended the relaunch at Queensland’s Parliament House in Brisbane on June 19, 2018.
Ecocycle was the key battery collection and recycling company in attendance and was represented by Business Development Manager Daryl Moyle.
“As an active participant in both Exitcycle and FluoroCycle, we are committed to both the practical tasks of ensuring these hazardous products are properly recycled, and also to the educational and promotional aspects of these programs,” Mr Moyle said.
“My hope is that everyone who reads this article will participate in these schemes.”
That includes encouraging other state governments to support the program.
“These programs have a clear positive impact on both the community and the environment,” said Mr Moyle.
“With facilities around Australia, Ecocycle is ideally positioned to provide battery and lighting collection and recycling services to commercial users and electrical contractors nation-wide.”
With exit lighting concentrated in commercial and public buildings, and the requirement that only electrical contractors can service these, Exitcycle is targeted at a relatively small segment of the lighting industry.
If the Exitcycle message can be communicated to everybody involved in emergency lighting maintenance, achieving a 95%-plus recycling rate should be well within reach.