Powering Up Battery Recycling: The B-Cycle Boost

series of unlabelled batteries, with the battery in the middle being bright great with a white recycling symbol

In our journey towards a more sustainable future, batteries will play a key part in supporting renewable energy technologies.

In fact a 2020 World Bank report, Minerals for Climate Action*, predicts an increase of up to 500% by 2050.

This expected boom highlights the importance of addressing the growing problem of battery waste and its impact on our environment. As a result, solutions are emerging nationwide to steer batteries from bins (where they pose a risk of causing fires and damaging our environment) and usher them safely into recycling systems where almost 96% of their materials can be reused. 

Data from the Battery Stewardship Council reveals that over 250,000 AA and AAA batteries were sold across Australia in 2017-18, yet only 11% were effectively recovered for recycling. 

This isn’t just a missed opportunity for reusing resources – it’s a significant safety risk. If not handled properly, batteries can cause fires.  

Just this April, batteries were likely to blame for a fire that shut down Canberra’s recycling and waste facility. A handful of similar incidents with general waste and recycling trucks catching fire due to wrongly placed batteries in bins further emphasises the necessity for a safe, scalable solution. 

*International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 2020, p. 73

Map of CRCs in Port Macquarie-Hastings LGA
What's been our local solution?
Our local Community Recycling Centres (CRC’s) have long been champions of this cause, providing a successful, free drop-off solution. In 2021, we hosted a Big Battery Blitz via 13 local schools, collecting more than 152kg of batteries directly and seeing a 52% increase in collection rates overall in our CRC’s, compared with the same quarter in the previous year.
Locally, across these centes, we now collect an average of between 700-900kg per quarter.
Towards a scaleable national solution

While our drop-off-for-free service continues to be offered across our LGA through our waste transfer stations and mobile CRC bins, it’s evident that supplementary systems are necessary to manage the predicted  increased influx of batteries.

Luckily, there’s a national solution – and it’s proving successful! 

In 2018, the Battery Stewardship Council, together with Government and industry consultants, developed a national stewardship scheme to more sustainably address battery production, consumption and recycling. After gaining authorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in 2020, the scheme officially launched in 2022 as B-Cycle. Far from being just a revamped recycling scheme, this initiative is firmly rooted in the principles of a circular economy, taking a comprehensive approach to battery lifecycle management. 

Taken from Battery Stewardship Council B-Cycle Scheme Information Sheet
The first report card

B-Cycle’s first report card is looking good! In just the first six months, B-Cycle collected over 900,000kg of batteries from more than 3200 drop-off points across Australia, increasing the collection rate to over 16%. 

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has proudly joined the scheme and, with extra local industry support, there are now over 20 drop-off locations across our area. With inconvenience reported as one of the main reasons around 63% of Australians have been incorrectly disposing of batteries in bins (b-cycle, 2020), this scheme creates a simple and convenient way for residents to responsibly dispose of spent batteries.

So, how can you help?

Simple ways you can help drive batteries out of bins and into effective recycling streams:

This reusable box helps you to safely store your spent batteries until you are able to take them to a registered drop off location. Visit our Drop Off for Free page and click on “Recycling Household Batteries” to order yours.

Please remember to tape the terminals of your batteries to prevent a potential battery fire.

Batteries from any household devices can be dropped off for free at a waste transfer station 

  • AA, AAA, C, and D cell batteries 
  • alkaline cell 
  • lithium 
  • 9-volt 
  • Cr123 camera batteries 
  • dry cell and zinc 
  • Li-ion batteries (from laptops, cameras, cell phones and tools) 
  • NiCd 
  • NiMH 
  • gel cell 
  • most damaged, leaking or rusty batteries 

B-Cyle’s website also provides useful information non what can and can’t be collected. 

With over 20 locations now available across our region, you are sure to find a convenient way of safely and effectively recycling your batteries. Use B-Cycle’s easy locator to find your registered local drop off spot, whether it’s one of our Council facilities or another B-Cycle partner. 

You can also find the locations of our waste transfer stations directly on our main website.

Word-of-mouth from a trusted source remains the most influential way to ensure the greatest impact from programs such as this.  So, now that you have this knowledge, how far can you help spread it?

 

Let’s all contribute to this sustainable shift to ensure we give every battery a new life!

Keen to learn more about batteries and other problem waste?

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