Thursday, May 19, 2022

Powering change, one battery at a time

Every year, Australians buy enough batteries to circle the planet 2.3 times, with research revealing that more than 150 million loose or removable used batteries are stored in homes across the country, from or in tools, toys, wristwatches, remote controls and other items, before being disposed of.

Most batteries have always been recyclable, but until now, no nationally coordinated infrastructure has been in place to collect and recycle single use or rechargeable batteries such as alkaline or lithium batteries. Few places existed to take them.

B-cycle, the new battery recycling scheme supported by the federal government, officially launched in February, founded by the not-for-profit Battery Stewardship Council (BSC). The mission is to redirect 90% of used batteries that now go to landfill, impacting the environment and wasting precious resources.

“We aim to create a circular economic model where batteries are handled safely, collected, recovered and recycled into new products, ideally back into new batteries,” says B-cycle CEO Libby Chaplin.

The B-cycle scheme isn’t a recycling service, but a network of organisations across Australia independently accredited by the BSC, assuring consumers, government and industry that batteries dropped off for recycling are collected and recycled in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

Participating battery collectors, sorters and recyclers are accredited to B-cycle’s safety and transparency requirements, which enables them to access rebates depending on the type of service they provide.

For retailers, no direct cost is involved for participating as drop-off points, unless they are also a battery importer (in which case they will need to become an accredited importer, with a small levy charged). Retailers may have indirect costs associated with promoting the scheme and managing drop-off points if they choose to provide them.

The scheme launched with 2351 drop-off points, including major grocery retailers, with this figure expected to increase to 3000 by mid-April.

“B-cycle aims to make it easy for everyone to recycle their batteries, and we’ll continue to grow the network so that more Australians have accessible battery recycling options,” Ms Chaplin says.

Read more about B-cycle in the April issue of Retail World.

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