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Industry Working Group starts work towards a rechargeable battery recycling program

On 21 January a government initiated battery industry working group met for the second time in Sydney to progress discussions on the development of a national voluntary product stewardship program for handheld rechargeable batteries.
The group, established in December last year, includes some of Australia’s leading battery manufacturers, consumer electronics brands and retailers including Panasonic, Canon, Officeworks, Energizer, Battery World, Robert Bosch and Metcash.
Participants agreed at their first meeting in December to work together in 2016 to investigate the feasibility of a national, voluntary recycling program for rechargeable batteries. They also agreed that the program will need to be environmentally responsible, financially sustainable and equitable.
The group, in partnership with government, is planning a collection trial to investigate consumer engagement and ability to differentiate rechargeable from non-rechargeable batteries. The trial will also assess the significance of potential free riding by battery brands.
The information from the trial, and a power tool battery recycling pilot currently underway in Brisbane, will be key to determining how to operate the national program efficiently and cost effectively.
Handheld batteries were one of the two priority products listed by the Australian Government in 2014-15 for investigation of product stewardship options.
Environment Ministers at their meeting on 15 December 2015 noted the formation of the group and commended the industry for progressing work on developing a voluntary program.
Ministers will consider the Battery Industry Working Group’s proposed program later this year.