Taking charge of battery waste


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The future

Sanyo is taking a slightly different tack. National service manager John Gillam says the company, which is a member of ABRI, recycles batteries in Japan.

Aside from battery recycling, Sanyo has also devised a new kind of rechargeable. The company hopes its 'eneloop' battery will bridge the divide between disposables and rechargeables.

Until now, rechargeable batteries have been sold in a discharged state because a charged battery would slowly discharge itself anyway.

"One major disadvantage of the rechargeable was it wasn't ready to use [immediately]," Gillam says. "Eneloop overcomes that issue. The technology allows it to hold its charge while on the shelf." And even Sanyo donates five cents from every eneloop sale to Clean Up Australia.

Darryl Moore, a resource recovery consultant based in Newcastle, NSWsays a user-pays system would bolster recycling. He belives a levy of a few cents when batteries are purchased could go towards establishing a recycling program to keep them out of landfill.

"In all funding schemes overseas, a levy on the purchase of batteries is present," he says. "One or two cents on average per battery could fund recycling."

Moore is also the development manager for AusBatt, a battery recycling initiative of AusZinc Metals & Alloys. AusZinc recovers and recycles zinc from galvanizing operations and other industries. It has developed a process that will enable the recycling of alkaline batteries.

According to Moore, rechargeable battery recycling is not currently feasible in Australia because of the small volume of rechargebles used.

Moore says many people don't understand the significance of different battery chemistries, and will try to recycle hazardous types that, for now, contaminate the process. He thinks the solution is a recycling scheme that gathers all batteries then sorts them out. "Unless you collect all [battery types], you won't have a successful program," he says.

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