Circular Economy, Product Profile

Ecobatt – efficiency and safety key to battery recycling

Working away quietly in the background over the past eight years, EcoBatt has developed one of the safest and efficient battery recycling methods across the sector.

“It’s interesting to listen to, and watch, the developments and stories other recyclers are putting out there and promoting,” says Doug Rowe, director of EcoBatt and Recycal. “We don’t try to say we are Australia’s only alkaline recycler or the only Australian battery recycler – we are not – but the team at EcoBatt can confidently say that they are the safest and largest battery recycling company in Australia.”

Rowe said EcoBatt does things that other companies don’t and won’t; including investing more than $8 million into a range of secure battery cabinets to safely hold and transport the full range of batteries around Australia.

EcoBatt has specialised DG-licensed transport vehicles to pick up end-of-life batteries with company-employed DG-licensed drivers.

Vans and tautliners have an inbuilt automated aerosol fire suppression system for early detection and extinguishing of any onboard
thermal issues.

The company has a range of specialised European imported galvanised bins, stamped and approved for the safe and legal transportation of batteries by WorkSafe and the EPA right around Australia.

The 4A containers are a world-class, universally accredited receptacle for transporting batteries under the packaging class P908.

The containers can safely be stacked three high and have a solid, sealed-hinged lid that is clamped down with safety pins.

Additional safety measures that are in place include purpose-built, 24/7 monitored on-site aerosol fire suppression storage containers to handle distressed batteries, and a mobile 20-foot container designed for holding distressed or damaged electric vehicles or batteries.

With sprinkler systems, a range of lithium fire extinguishers, thermal imaging cameras, and heat detection systems linked to security cameras, the containers are at the forefront of innovation to detect, extinguish
and protect.

“Battery recycling has its challenges,” said Rowe. “They need to be respected, and the very real risks acknowledged and dealt with. Too little has been invested, and too many corners have been cut by too many, over the past few years – and it’s now time to ensure that recycling is carried out to the standards being seen around the world.”

EcoBatt has more than 5000 unique smart sensor units (battery cabinets) positioned throughout Australia, including at most supermarkets.

It even has cabinets in King Island, Alice Springs, Broome, Cairns and many remote areas.

Rowe said the cabinet locations ensure the public has a convenient and accessible place to deposit batteries within a few kilometres’ radius of their homes.

Button cell batteries can be dropped off at these Smart Sensor Supermarket cabinets, or at any Mister Minute store around Australia.

The units even take old mobile phones for recycling.

“It’s convenient, it’s accessible, it’s safe,” Rowe said. “We need the community to get behind it and do their bit.”

On site, EcoBatt has a state-of-the-art AI sorting system that separates and sorts all types of batteries. Batteries are separated into specific categories, types and chemistries, and any mobile phones, e-waste or other mixed waste is removed for recycling.

Plastic bags are opened and
emptied – with the old plastic bags recycled. The end result is bins full of separated batteries ready for processing.

EcoBatt can safely and efficiently process the full spectrum of batteries including electric vehicles, storage batteries, tool pack batteries and smaller batteries, such as button cell batteries.

EcoBatt’s sister company, Ecocycle, removes the mercury from any small button cell batteries by distilling them in a batch dome distilling process. This allows the remaining metals to be refined and recovered, completing the full recycling process safely and efficiently.

Rowe said EcoBatt has facilities in every state and is committed to ensuring that the Australian public has a recycling solution for all their different batteries.

He said that while most batteries will be covered by the new Battery Stewardship Scheme, large EV batteries and storage batteries will be a paid service.

“There is a solution for recycling your batteries and EcoBatt wants everyone to be part of it,” Rowe said.

“Let’s ensure that batteries don’t end up in general waste streams and landfills where they can cause major fire risks in waste and collection vehicles and ultimately, the contamination of the environment and water ways.

“There are no longer any excuses not to do what’s right.”