Battery Rescue has launched its waste dry cell or handheld battery recycling service. Also known as portable batteries, this includes AA, AAA, C, D and 9V batteries, as well as button & power tool batteries. We are offering this service Free of charge to our customers and at a very low cost to non-Battery Rescue customers, in an effort to improve Australia’s appalling recycling rate for dry cell or hand held batteries.
As part of the service we supply Western Australian businesses & organisations with our Dry Cell Box (DCB), picture below. The box is made from heavy duty 5mm card and includes the Dangerous Good marking for Lithium & Lithium Ion batteries. It also designed to carry approximately 20kg when full, making it ergonomically safe to lift.
Why is Recycling Dry Cell Batteries Important?
There are a wide variety of handheld batteries, most contain chemicals that are toxic to both humans and the environment. Common metals used include cadmium, lead, zinc, manganese, nickel, silver, mercury, and lithium, as well as acidic and alkaline electrolytes. Many of these batteries are classified as Dangerous Goods and/or Hazardous Wastes.
The majority of these batteries are going to landfill where these toxic materials leach into the soil and water systems. These materials can adversely impact the health of plants, animals and humans. Lithium & Lithium Ion batteries, which are exploding in use, are believed to be responsible for the recent spate of fires at Waste Facilities in Australia and around the world.
Recycling of Dry Cell or Handheld batteries protects humans and the environment from toxic substances, helps preserve finite resources used in their production and reduces the need to mine these materials.
So How Bad Are Our Recycling Rates?
Appalling, terrible, shocking, embarrassing… I think you get the picture. The last significant study of Australian dry cell battery recycling rates was conducted in 2012-13 and painted a pretty grim picture. Of an estimated 14,703 Tonnes of dry cell or handheld batteries disposed of only 403 Tonnes were collected for recycling. The remaining 14,345 Tonnes were disposed to landfill and elsewhere. And since this study was completed, handheld battery use has been growing exponentially.
To put our dry cell recycling rate in context, that’s an embarrassing 2.7% versus the recycling rates achieved by many European Countries in excess of 50% and Belgium’s impressive 70.6%.
Why Is It So Bad?
Great question and glad you asked. Australian recycling rates for Car Batteries & other large Lead Acid Batteries are estimated to be around 90%, so why are recycling rates for dry cell batteries so poor?
We suspect there are 3 main reasons. Firstly, unlike Lead Acid Batteries, most other battery chemistries have little or no commercial value and in-fact cost money to correctly recycle. Secondly their small size makes them more convenient to dispose of in our rubbish bins and lastly their widespread use by practically every Australian, makes the logistics of collecting them for recycling, challenging.
But don’t those same obstacles also apply in Europe? Yes they do, however the European Union, through its “Battery Directive” has set recycling targets of 45% for its member states and includes “Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)” where producers of batteries are responsible for the correct disposal of batteries they place on the market.
Unfortunately, despite many years of trying, a similar scheme has not been implemented in Australia. The Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI), have long been championing the implementation of a “Battery Stewardship” scheme, to ensure the responsible management of all batteries from design through to their end of life.
And while we haven’t recently seen eye to eye with the ABRI concerning their views about the state of the used lead acid battery recycling industry, we want to give credit where credit is due and commend them for their work on this issue. Progress does appear to be being made however they are battling good old Government inertia, that make glaciers look fast and a fair bit of reluctance from the major battery manufacturers.
Battery Rescue’s Dry Cell Recycling Service
We hope our new Dry Cell Recycling Service will make a small contribution to the quantity of dry cell / handheld batteries being recycled. We also hope to be able to expand our service beyond Western Australia, to other Australian states in the future. Visit dry cell recycling service for further details about our service. To inquire about our service please contact us here.