Australia 'missing out on multi-billion-dollar battery recycling industry', says report

by Margaret Lau
Lost billions? Report says a nationwide recycling industry would recover valuable battery materials. Photo: Mumtahina Tanni / Pexels
Australia could have a battery metals and materials industry worth billions of dollars if it sets up a nationwide lithium-ion battery (LIB) recycling industry, according to a new report.

Poor LIB recycling rates and disposal of batteries in landfill sites adds up to a potential lost value of AUD 3.1bn (£1.7bn), said the report prepared for the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC) by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Jo Staines, enterprise fellow at the University of Melbourne and FBICRC’s programme lead said: "The conundrum we face in Australia is that we don’t currently have the volume of spent LIBs to justify significant investment, but we want to keep LIB’s out of landfill to prevent environmental damage and retain those valuable battery materials in our economy.”

'Emerging problem'

Report lead author Dr Anand Bhatt said: "The demand for lithium-ion batteries is increasing globally, fuelled by the increasing electrification of transport and the renewable energy generation storage sector. This growth is leading to an emerging problem of end-of-life waste management.”

Currently, while Australia recycles 98% of lead batteries, only 10% of LIB waste is recycled, according to research conducted by CSIRO in 2018. This waste is growing by an estimated 20% a year and could exceed 100,000 tonnes by 2036.

Proposals to improve recycling, highlighted in the report, included improved labelling and barcoding or QR coding requirements for battery cells and a "comprehensive review of policies, regulations and guidelines for end-of-life battery waste management”.

The report is online – click on the link below.


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