Almost a tonne of power tool batteries in Brisbane alone have been collected for recycling as part of a pilot being run through Brisbane hardware stores.
Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said 800 kilograms of batteries had been returned to 19 tool retailers by members of the public.
“This is an excellent result in such a short time, largely due to the efforts of DIY-ers and tradies in bringing their power tool batteries back for recycling,” Dr Miles said.
“All up, some 2.2 tonnes of recyclable power tool batteries have been saved from landfill since I launched the pilot on Father’s Day last year.
“If you’re getting your DIY gear out for the Easter long weekend, don’t forget that it’s easy to save old power tool batteries from landfill.
“Retailers helping us out with the pilot collection project include Masters, Bunnings and Trade Tools stores in Brisbane metro area, with a further group – Total Tools – joining up last month.
“It is these stores that have assisted by receiving returned batteries.
“And as a result of the pilot, Trade Tools has been able to recycle its stockpile of 1.3 tonnes of these batteries collected over the past five years as people have been bringing their power tools in for servicing.”
Dr Miles said more than 3 million used power tool batteries were disposed of each year in Australia.
Power tool batteries were recyclable but the current recycling rate is very low, with fewer than three per cent returned for recycling.
Dr Miles said almost 70 per cent of these batteries were lithium-ion, followed by nickel cadmium (22 per cent) and nickel metal hydride (8 per cent).
“Nickel-cadmium batteries are toxic and although they are no longer made many are still used.”
Dr Miles said he encouraged anyone with a power tool battery that was no longer serviceable to return it to one of the pilot program’s participating outlets in the Brisbane area.
“We know from feedback the pilot program has produced that power tool brand owners, consumers and tradies are interested in recycling batteries, and we must capitalise on this interest to ensure better outcomes for the environment.
“The information from this pilot will feed into the design of a national voluntary program for rechargeable batteries that is currently being developed.
“The Queensland Government is leading this initiative, with secretarial support from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.”
Dr Miles said a working group comprised of representatives from battery manufacturers, retailers and brand owners had been established to scope how rechargeable batteries could be collected and processed under a national program – with a report on this to be delivered by the end of 2016.
The working group will meet in Melbourne today (Monday) where members will visit a pilot battery recycling plant.
Dr Miles said the working group would also discuss a new pilot program in Queensland to test other options for the collection of all rechargeable batteries, building on the information gained from the power tool pilot.
“The working group will also look at ways that collections can be enhanced, and plans for moving forward with the national program.”
Companies and organisations involved in the working group include Canon, Panasonic, Energizer, Duracell, Battery World, Officeworks, Robert Bosch, Metcash, Toshiba, Super Retail Group, the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative and Lighting Council Australia.
“I would like to commend the efforts of the participants on the working group for their commitment to designing a voluntary national program,’ he said. “This is an important step in ensuring the safe and appropriate management of these batteries.”
More information on the pilot project is available at www.ehp.qld.gov.au/waste/