Thursday 23 May 2024


The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) welcomes the Federal Government’s National Battery Strategy as a step in the right direction towards developing Australia’s renewable resilience and capitalising on our natural advantages, however we have concerns it does not move us towards the circular economy required by 2030, or fund today the need to urgently provide a collection pathway for many existing battery types that have no disposal pathway. 

“WMRR is very pleased to see a government focus on seizing the national security imperatives and economic opportunities presented by expanding the domestic battery industry,” WMRR Chief Executive Officer Gayle Sloan said. 

“The National Battery Strategy also has the potential to be a big boost for the waste and resource recovery industry by generating green jobs, reducing the use of virgin essential minerals, cutting emissions and creating a more secure supply chain,” Ms Sloan said.

The strategy is right to harness Australia’s competitive edge as identified by the CSIRO Australia’s Comparative and Competitive Advantages in Transitioning to a Circular Economy Report which stated the nation holds ‘significant global supply-chain advantages… [as the] producer of nine (9) of the ten minerals required to manufacture lithium-ion batteries… [and] high-tech engineering skills for designing, manufacturing and refurbishing lithium-ion batteries.’

However, the report released in January 2024, also found that by expanding Australia’s participation further down the global value chain for batteries including the capability to reuse, refurbish, and recycle batteries could almost double the economic gains between now and 2030 resulting in $7.4 billion in value added and around 34,700 jobs. 

It goes on: “Increasing recycling of e-waste from 54 per cent to 80 per cent and high efficiency recycling systems would result in an additional $440 million worth of materials recovered, 0.34 million tonnes of e-waste being dismantled for high-value recycling, creating local jobs, and saving 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.”

“However, there needs to be urgent attention given to addressing the existing gaps in battery collection in Australia because the waste and resource recovery industry is literally on fire,” Ms Sloan said.

“We are seeing battery fires on an almost daily basis in our trucks and facilities, with embedded batteries which currently have no safe disposal or collection pathway.

“WMRR calls on all governments to urgently invest in drop off locations in every state and territory to get batteries out of existing bins where they pose a huge risk. 

“Whilst industry knows the Environment Ministers Meeting is considering a national strategy in June this year, we need more than a strategy - we need funding, and we need it now. 

“The WARR industry cannot continue as is with the rate of fires. We are approaching a time when we will be unable to insure our services and facilities, which will mean that services to the community will be in doubt.

“Batteries incorrectly placed in the bin pose a serious risk to our workers, trucks and facilities as they start fires when damaged or crushed,” Ms Sloan said.