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Button cell battery recycling project

ABRI has received funding from the NSW Environmental Trust to investigate new business models for the collection, recycling and disposal of used batteries. The focus is on safe disposal or recycling of small disc-shaped batteries used in a wide range of products including hearing aids, watches, toys, promotional items, cameras, car keys, remote controls etc. The smallest of these (less than 12mm), including those in hearing aids, are commonly referred to as ‘button cells’, while the larger ones (generally more than 20mm) are referred to as ‘coin cells’.
Both types of batteries are a safety hazard for small children due to the risks associated with ingestion. Around five children present to an emergency department each week in Australia with an injury related to a button or coin cell. The most hazardous batteries are lithium coin cells, which can cause serious or fatal injury due to their size (which means they can easily lodge in the oesophagus) and chemical burns caused by residual charge in the battery.
This project will design child-safe collection containers for used button and coin cell batteries to improve the safety of battery recycling. The first concepts will be presented by designer David Flynn to steering committee members at their meeting on 22 April. One or more of these concepts will proceed to prototyping and will be tested through a series of collection trials in Sydney. The results are expected to be available in December 2016.
The 12-month project is being undertaken in conjunction with a range of partners including the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), Kidsafe, ACCC and the Hearing Care Industry Association.