Since B-cycle launched in 2022, there has been tremendous growth in battery recycling participation. As the face of the Battery Stewardship Councils recycling program, they have seen collection rates almost double, and the number of available drop-off points jump to over 5,000 locations.
The growth of B-cycle battery collections is a positive indication of the impact behaviour change programs can make as awareness grows of proper recycling methods. It is also a major step forward at preventing toxic materials from ending up in landfills and conserving finite resources.
The benefits schemes like B-cycle provide are important as batteries are classed as dangerous goods which, if improperly handled, present a significant fire risk, therefore they need to be treated with care during use and disposal.
Last year, the NSW Government reported a 20 per cent increase in lithium battery fires through kerbside collection streams. B-cycle enables consumers the opportunity to dispose of them safely and appropriately for recycling. Previous to B-cycle's launch there was little information and opportunity for Australians to do so.
Many battery fires can be attributed to improper storage, particularly when used batteries are disposed of in general waste or recycling bins. The waste industry reports at least three fires a week from batteries resulting in major damage to recycling and waste infrastructure. Batteries should never be disposed of in general waste or recycling bins and should instead be recycled through B-cycle accredited drop-off locations.
One of the main goals for battery recycling in 2024 is to increase the awareness of battery safety and disposal. It is important for people to remember to never put their used batteries in general waste and recycling bins, to protect the terminals by taping them with clear sticky tape, and take them to a B-cycle drop-off point or other battery collection service like Batteries 4 Planet Ark.
Despite the growth of recycling options, it’s estimated that Australian’s still have more than 150 million loose batteries in their homes, with only 12 per cent of all batteries currently being recycled. Convenience is often the most significant barrier to good recycling habits and with increased numbers of drop-off points it is expected that battery recycling rates will increase.
This year Coles Group installed almost 850 battery recycling bins at Coles stores around the country, with the retailer aiming to provide customers with a safe, convenient and effective way to recycle batteries and reduce household waste. This was the result of Coles becoming an accredited participant of B-cycle and partnering with materials recovery companies Close the Loop and Ecobatt to manage the bins, battery collection and recycling.
Most bins accept any brand of AA, AAA, C, D, and rectangular 6- and 9-volt batteries, as well as button cell batteries. When using these bins, it is important to remember to tape the ends with sticky tape around the battery terminals to help prevent fires. Accredited collection points are serviced by trusted materials recovery companies like Close the Loop and Ecobatt, who ensure collected batteries are recycled and resources are returned to production streams.