Battery Recycling – A Emerging Industry in Australia

In conversations with motorists, one of the first questions I get asked is: how fast can it go? But when I’m with environmental groups, the main question is always: what happens to the batteries? The recent report from the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Center (FBICRC) gives a very good overview. (See here and here for coverage of this report.)

“Currently Australia has a very low recycling rate for batteries other than lead acid batteries. Lead-acid batteries currently represent around 90% of end-of-life batteries by weight. However, end-of-life lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and battery-based energy storage systems are predicted to “experience strong growth” over the next decade, and from 2040 onwards they will surpass. lead-acid batteries.

There are well-established processes for the collection of lead acid batteries in Australia and the local reprocessing industry is well developed. However, recycling technology from lead-acid batteries is not transferable to lithium-ion batteries due to differences in materials.

A small number of lithium-ion battery recycling facilities are currently operating in Australia. These companies collect, discharge and disassemble lithium-ion batteries, some also crushing and granulating the materials into a “black mass” before exporting them abroad for further reprocessing.

“The lithium-ion battery reuse and refurbishment business is at a very recent stage right now. Battery recycling is a priority for all levels of government in Australia, with the National Waste Policy Action Plan 2019 identifying batteries as a priority for product stewardship. The Battery Stewardship Council has since developed a national, voluntary battery management program with industry and other stakeholders, which is expected to start operating in early 2022. As part of this program, a tax will be applied to batteries. that will be visibly passed on to consumers. The levy will be used to finance a system of discounts for service providers approved for the collection, sorting and treatment of batteries. The program will start with loose and portable batteries and those that are not sealed inside a product before further consultation to also include electric vehicle batteries and energy storage system batteries in the program. .

Economies that are even further advanced in the electric vehicle revolution could also provide guidance for future reuse and recycling options. Small businesses are springing up in Europe to reuse electric vehicle batteries for home use or mini-grid applications. Most automakers also appear to incorporate a recycling component to ensure compliance with the company’s demands for a climate-friendly solution. Even as Australia nears a 3% penetration of electric vehicles in the new car market, the lifespan of the new batteries will not be known for some time.

Again, it is good to see the government planning for the future by identifying training needs for battery recycling.


Battery management system

Professional skills gap assessment and workforce development plan

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