Woolworths to roll out 1000 collection bins for battery recycling

Woolworths customers will soon be able to recycle used batteries and mobile phones as the retailer rolls out new collection units nationally.

Woolworths Battery and Mobile Phone recycling unit. 20 April, 2021. Photograph Dallas Kilponen/Woolworths.

All Woolworths supermarkets will offer customers a convenient place to recycle batteries across hundreds of Australian communities to help keep them out of landfill.

It comes as Australian battery recycling rates lag behind other advanced economies, where collection has traditionally been more accessible. “Australia currently recycles around 10 per cent of typical handheld household batteries compared to around 40 per cent in the UK and Germany.” (O’Farrell, K., et al (2019) Australian Battery Market Analysis, prepared on behalf of the Battery Stewardship Council).

Starting in Victoria next week, the progressive rollout will continue in NSW in May, with the recycling units to be available in all 1000 Woolworths supermarkets by August.

Once the rollout is complete, Woolworths will offer “the largest network of battery collection units in Australia and expects to collect up to two million batteries a month based on the volumes collected during trials at selected supermarkets late last year.”

Woolworths Supermarkets Head of Sustainability, Adrian Cullen said: “We’re working towards a better tomorrow by reducing our own environmental footprint, while also making it easier for our customers to do the same.

“One way we can have a positive impact is through initiatives like our new battery recycling units, which make sustainability and recycling part of a regular routine for the millions of customers who shop with us weekly.

“Often with the best of intentions, people can hold on to their used batteries at home, with the plan of eventually recycling them.

“By offering customers a convenient place to drop off batteries and phones as part of their regular weekly shop, not only can we help prevent batteries going to landfill, but also reduce at home stockpiles which can be a safety risk.”

The recycling program is operated in partnership with battery recycler Ecobatt. It will collect and process the batteries and phones – splitting the batteries into various materials for recycling and sending the remaining mobile phone components to Mobile Muster for specialised recycling.

The move comes as the Federal Government announces additional funding for the Battery Stewardship Council to support its Battery Product Stewardship Scheme, of which Woolworths is a member. The industry-led scheme was established last year to support local recycling capacity and safe lifecycle management of these common household items.

Federal Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley said: “Our funding will support the Battery Stewardship Council to build a network of partner organisations and collection points, from supermarkets to libraries and office suppliers, where consumers can take their used batteries, deposit them safely and have the confidence that they will be recycled.

“Convenience is often one of the key elements to changing consumer behaviour, so it is wonderful to see Woolworths providing their customers drop off points for used batteries.”

The battery and mobile phone recycling units will join the REDcycle soft plastics collection bins available in every Woolworths store. This offers communities a recycling hub for household waste that can’t be recycled in most curbside council bins. Since 2017, Woolworths has collected 900 million pieces of soft plastic from customers through the REDcycle program, which repurposes plastic waste into new products like outdoor furniture and fittings in Woolworths’own stores.

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