How to close the loop on lithium-ion battery recycling

Only two per cent of Australia's annual 3,300 tonnes of lithium-ion battery waste is recycled, says the consultancy CSIRO in a report on Lithium-ion battery recycling published Wednesday.

The authors of the study want to emulate the same success that was achieved in recycling lead-acid batteries. Of the 150,000 tonnes of lead-acid batteries sold in 2010, CSIRO says 98 per cent were recycled.

The authors of the study are proposing a multi-pronged effort to encourage recycling of lithium-ion batteries. The advantage would be less environmental contamination and reducing the risk of fire from discarded lithium-ion batteries. The materials needed to make lithium-ion batteries are also costly and recycling can add to the supply.

Low battery recycling rates can be overcome through better understanding of the importance of recycling, improved collection processes, and by implementing ways to efficiently recycle materials, says CSIRO.

If lithium-ion batteries were recycled, 95 per cent of components can be turned into new batteries or used in other industries.

Access the full report here.

Creative Commons image of junkyard courtesy of Kamyar Adl