Lithium Australia leading the charge on lithium-ion

8 December 2022 07:11

The WWF-Australia Renewable Superpower Scorecard is out, shining a spotlight on Envirostream as making an indelible impact on turning the nation into a renewable export superpower.

It praised Lithium Australia’s recycling subsidiary as the nation’s first recycling company to safely transport, store and process batteries locally at the end of their life.

The value of the lithium-ion battery is well known, central to global electrification and the march to net zero, but after being discarded they become a significant environmental concern — and a tremendous untapped resource.

Lithium Australia chief financial officer Stuart Tarrant said the company’s biggest competitor right now is landfill.

“Last year we stopped over a thousand tonnes of potentially toxic waste going into landfill, but so much more is discarded to landfill as this remains the cheapest way to dispose of batteries in many states,” he said.

CSIRO estimate there will be around 18 thousand tonnes of lithium-ion batteries available for recycling in three years’ time, increasing to over 135 thousand tonnes by 2036.

Lithium Australia approximate only around a tenth are recycled, with itself doing the lion’s share.

There are challenges to the industry, the definition of end-of-life batteries as a dangerous good making them particularly difficult to transport across the country.

A task Lithium Australia have worked to make a competitive advantage.

“We have very high standards of battery management which has been gained over the past 7 years – collection and transport equipment to limit the risk of lithium-ion battery fires is a specialty of Envirostream,” Tarrant said.

“Our service reputation has enabled support from household names such as Bunnings Warehouse, Officeworks and Battery World who are our collection partners through to original equipment manufacturers such as LG Energy Solution and Milwaukee.”

As Envirostream moves close to breakeven, Tarrant sees the coming year as an auspicious one, already having claimed a minimum 250 tonne commitment from LG Energy Solution and signing up Battery World for in-store collection.

“Growth is the word – for our recycling division specifically, we are working with our collection partners and original equipment manufacturers to increase the collection of batteries with a focus on lithium-ion volumes,” he said.

And with assets in raw materials, chemical recovery and manufacture of the mighty lithium-ion battery, the company has the platform to close the lithium loop and turn itself into a battery powerhouse.

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