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Battery recycling the EU and


									                                                B A T T E R Y            R E C Y C L I N G

          Battery recycling: the EU and
In the stunning surroundings of the old Hungarian capital of Budapest,
alongside the shining River Donau, representatives from Europe’s bat-
   tery organisations, as well as delegates from battery producers and
  recyclers, came together to evaluate for the first time the implemen-
         tation of the 2006 EU Battery Directive. In this article, Recycling
                         International reviews the key points raised at the event.

                                                I n battery land, and especially in battery recycling
                                                  land, legislation is currently a point of focus given
                                                that the new EU Battery Directive - which includes
                                                collection and reprocessing targets for portable bat-
                                                teries - is scheduled to come into force on September
                                                25 next year.
                                                   At the 12th annual International Congress of
                                                Battery Recycling (ICBR), delegates shared their
                                                experiences and differing perspectives on battery
                                                recycling. And whether their background was politi-
Dr Gabor Baranyai, head of the EU Legislation   cal, environmental or commercial, they contributed
Unit at the Hungarian Ministry of Environment
                                                to a generally optimistic conference atmosphere. It is
                                                widely held that, with the help of the new European
                                                legislation, the continent’s battery recyclers will dis-
                                                cover currently-unexplored fields of battery collection
                                                and treatment, ensuring that highly toxic batteries
                                                do not end up in landfills or incineration facilities.
                                                   The congress was held in the birthplace of mod-
                                                ern Europe - the impressive old city of Budapest -
                                                and was hosted by the European Battery Recycling
                                                Association (EBRA) and European Portable Battery
                                                Association (EPBA). Including key figures from
                                                Europe’s largest battery organisations and recy-
Orsolya Csorba, Administrator at the EU
                                                cling companies, there was a record attendance of
Environment Directorate-General.                149 delegates from 52 countries in Europe and
                                                beyond. Indeed, EBRA itself - which aims to pro-
                                                mote the collection, treatment, sorting and recy-          Hungary, delegates were told. ‘Before the 2006
                                                cling of spent batteries - welcomed new members            Directive, most of the spent consumer batteries end-
                                                from Greece, Ireland and Mexico.                           ed up in landfilling,’ said Dr Baranyai. ‘We don’t have
                                                                                                           recycling capabilities; however, the lack of recycling
                                                                Keynote speakers                           is more an economic than a technical matter.’ By
                                                   The man who set the ball rolling was keynote            improving the infrastructure, Hungary aims to moti-
                                                speaker Dr Gabor Baranyai, who heads the EU                vate the public to hand in their spent batteries.
                                                Legislation Unit at the Hungarian Ministry of                 Originally from Hungary, Administrator at the
                                                Environment. Outlining the battery recycling posi-         EU Environment Directorate-General Orsolya
                                                tion across Eastern Europe, he noted that collection       Csorba contributed an overview of recent develop-
                                                schemes in Hungary and in neighbouring countries           ments relating to the implementation of the EU
                                                are either relatively young or have yet to be estab-       Battery Directive. ‘We have come to a stage that we
                                                lished. Although some legislation was laid down in         (the EU and collectors) have come together and
By Gert-Jan van der Have                        1995, there is virtually no collection activity in         understand each other,’ she concluded. EU member

     Recycling International • July/August 2007                                                                                                                2
                                                            B A T T E R Y                    R E C Y C L I N G

Switzerland power ahead
 states should encourage the collection of batteries                              Mobile phones
 and should arrive at a common method for calcu-             According to a report by telecoms analysis com-
 lating the volume of batteries. The European              pany The Mobile World, mobile phones surpassed
 Commission and member states are tasked with              the 3 billion global subscriptions mark in July -
 harmonising registration requirements for spent           thanks in large part to increased phone use in
 batteries, such as producer labelling.                    developing countries. Most mobile phone manufac-
   Mrs Csorba noted that the European Commission           turers use lithium-ion and nickel metal hybrid bat-
 has proposed a new, improved procedure which will         teries, although some are switching to lithium poly-
 increase the influence of the European Parliament -       mer accumulators which weigh even less. With 666
 something which the Parliament itself is willing to       million mobile connections, Europe is said to have
 accept.                                                   reached 100% penetration level.                            Bertrand Schutz, Chairman of the European
                                                                                                                      Battery Recycling Association EBRA.
                                                             Despite the huge number of new subscriptions,
                   Results to date                         battery recycling continues to lag way behind given
    Despite battery collection efforts to date, the pro-   the fact that collection levels have dropped for lithi-
 portion of primary batteries collected (15%) is far       um batteries used in mobile phones and lap-tops.
 lower than the EU’s current target of 25% for 2012.       ‘People keep the batteries at home - that’s a real
 This low figure worries EBRA Chairman Bertrand            problem,’ noted Mr Schutz.
 Schutz, who said in Budapest: ‘85% of used portable
 batteries are not collected, but are landfilled or                   Defining the recycled battery
 incinerated. These ways of disposal should be pro-          When is it possible to class a battery as ‘recycled’?
 hibited as soon as possible.’                             This is not an easy question to answer because of
    There are large gaps between rates of production       the various components - such as metals, metal
 and collection, especially as figures show that the       oxides, salts, plastics, electrolytes and paper - which
 number of spent portable rechargeable lithium bat-        make up modern batteries and need to be treated.
                                                                                                                      Dr Jürgen Fricke, Chairman of the German
 teries is decreasing. By 2016, the target will be to      According to Mr Schutz, a battery can be said to           battery collection organisation GRS Batterien.

 recycle 65% of lead accumulators and 75% of nickel-
 cadmium containing types. As the diversity of other
 kinds of batteries is increasing, the target set for        Saft to produce lithium-ion batteries
 these is 50%. In 2006, EBRA’s 18 members recycled a            Battery maker Saft has won a contract to supply lithium-ion batteries for a vehicle
 total of 33 915 tonnes of batteries compared to 29 039      which will go to market at the end of 2008 and will become the first commercial vehicle
 tonnes the year before. ‘We are able to manage larger       of its type in the world, according to Jill Ledger, the French company’s
 amounts - there is enough capacity,’ noted Mr Schutz.       Communications Director. In Budapest, she explained: ‘We have always thought that,
    There are still many untapped areas in terms of          at some point, lithium-ion will take over from nickel-metal hybrid in vehicles because
 collecting spent portable rechargeable batteries            it’s smaller and lighter, it’s got more power and it’s more compact.’ The weight of a
 (PRB), such as those used in lap-tops, mobile phones,       lithium-ion battery is around half that of a nickel-hybrid battery, thereby making a
 power tools and cameras, according to Dr Jean-Paul          vehicle more fuel efficient.
 Wiaux who manages the Recharge association repre-              No problems are anticipated in finding enough base materials. ‘There is plenty of
 senting the rechargeable batteries market. Removing         lithium in the world,’ she said. ‘It’s just that there is a huge supply in South America
 batteries from devices takes time and therefore             and everyone is getting it from South America. Even if everything changed to lithium,
 makes the market cost-driven, it was noted.                 then apparently there is not a problem with supply.’
    The PRB market is characterised by a wide variety           LME three-month nickel is trading at around US$ 36 200 per tonne at the time of writ-
 of applications as well as by a large spread of PRB         ing - down from the all-time high of US$ 51 800 achieved in May this year. A hybrid car
 sizes, geometries and chemistries. Therefore, it is         battery contains some 10 kg of nickel,
 extremely important that improved product design            around a quarter of the total weight of
 offers disassemblers easy access to the battery.            the battery used in the biggest-selling
 Mr Wiaux observed: ‘The motivation for end users to         hybrid vehicle - the Toyota Prius.
 return equipment is governed by factors totally inde-
                                                              Some people expect that, at some point, lithium-ion
 pendent from their motivations at purchase time.             will take over from nickel-metal hybrid in vehicles
 Often, people store their equipment for a long period        because it’s smaller and lighter, it’s got more power
                                                              and it’s more compact
 or to make value out of it through resale.’

     Recycling International • July/August 2007                                                                                                                  3
                                                                           B A T T E R Y              R E C Y C L I N G

                                                                          responsibilities relating to the collection of used
                                                                          portable batteries. The new EU directive requires the
                                                                          producer - the organisation putting the battery in the
                                                                          device - to be responsible for the battery’s registra-
                                                                          tion, to declare its weight and to finance its take-back.
                                                                          However, the definition needs to be more precise, it
                                                                          was argued. According to Dr Fricke, the ‘producer’ is:
                                                                          * The battery manufacturer (or importer) or the
                                                                             battery pack assembler, when it is selling directly
                                                                             to the end user market in that EU member state.
                                                                          * The OEM (original equipment manufacturer) sell-           Professor Bruno Scrosati from the Chemistry
Jean-Paul Wiaux (left), Managing Director of the Recharge association,                                                                Department at the University of Roma and
together with Ralf zur Steege (middle) and Mitsunori Takao (right) from      ing equipment with incorporated batteries or packs       Chairman of the IBRC Congress.
Sanyo Electric.
                                                                             to the end user market in that EU member state.
have been ‘recycled’ when the output of the recy-                         * The private label owner selling to the end user
cling process is not classified as waste and is not                          market in that EU member state.
sent to a landfill or to an incineration plant (either                    * The entity within the battery end user market
with or without energy recovery).                                            located inside the member state that makes a
   According to the EBRA, the most appropriate route                         direct purchase of batteries on a professional
is use as an end product or as an incoming material                          basis from another country.
for another purpose or process without any other form                        The definition is still showing some gaps, as
of treatment. The slag produced during the recycling                      sometimes identical batteries can be portable or
process needs to be separated. The portion sent to                        industrial. ‘Detecting by weight will not be enough,’
landfill is not part of ‘recycling’ except when it is                     said Dr Fricke. ‘It’s not a question of weight but of
                                                                                                                                      Duncan Bury from the Canadian Ministry of
processed for a purpose such as road foundations.                         the kind of application.’                                   Environment.
   This same conclusion was also reached by
Professor Bernd Friedrich from Germany’s Aachen                                          The future of lithium
University, who proposed a new calculation method                            Over the coming years, battery organisations will
for all battery types and recycling processes.                            face new challenges as new high-tech batteries
Despite the fact that the EU has set ambitious tar-                       enter the waste stream. The best-known new mem-
gets, there is still no specified way of measuring                        ber of the battery family is the lithium-ion battery,
recycled batteries, it was suggested. ‘Our method is                      which is used mainly in cameras, lap-tops and other
based on relevant elements and compounds which                            electronic devices. The lithium-ion battery enjoys a
exist in new (virgin) batteries and not on those                          long shelf life, a constant voltage, a wide operating
being present in the scrap,’ summarised Prof.
Friedrich. Independent of the recycling technology,
                                                                            Hybrid switch for New York’s
calculations end once products have been created -
either in the form of individual end products or of
                                                                            yellow cabs
feedstock for other processes.                                                 According to a plan revealed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, there will be no gas-
                                                                            guzzling Ford Crown Victorias functioning as taxis in New York City within five years.
                Registration of a battery                                   Under a programme beginning in October 2008, all taxis in the city will be replaced by
   Dr Jürgen Fricke, Chairman of the German bat-                            fuel-efficient hybrids.
tery collection organisation GRS Batterien, outlined                           Replacement of the city’s 13 000 yellow cabs (more than 90% of which are Crown
                                                                            Victorias) with hybrid vehicles would have the same impact on air quality as the
                                                                            removal of 32 000 privately-owned vehicles from the roads, the mayor said. The slight-
                                                                            ly higher cost of buying hybrid vehicles would be offset by the US$ 10 000 owners
                                                                            would save on average in annual fuel costs.
                                                                               The five-year plan, which requires the approval of the city’s Taxi and Limousine
                                                                            Commission, is part of the mayor’s ambitious environmental agenda for New York -
                                                                            known as PlaNYC - which calls for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the
                                                                            year 2030. In the last two years, the city has added some 375 hybrid vehicles to the yel-
                                                                            low cab fleet. San Francisco, Boston and other US cities have introduced hybrids into
                                                                            their taxi fleets, but New York City officials say Mayor Bloomberg’s plan is believed to
                                                                            be the most extensive of any major city.
The ECBR congress was held in the opulent Grand Ballroom of the
Budapest Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal.

      Recycling International • July/August 2007                                                                                                                                  4
                                                                          B A T T E R Y             R E C Y C L I N G

temperature range and low self-discharge charac-                         cadmium; in the future, all of these will be replaced
teristics. The lithium battery has become a durable                      by lithium versions,’ forecasted Professor Bruno
accumulator which is used increasingly in larger                         Scrosati, from the Chemistry Department at the
‘machines’ such as motor vehicles. However, it is                        University of Roma, during his opening speech in
also a challenge for battery recyclers as the primary                    the baroque-style Grand Ballroom of the Budapest
lithium battery market is expected to grow to be                         Corinthia Hotel where the conference was staged.
worth more than US$ 1.135 million/€ 748 million                             The explosive nature of lithium batteries led to an
by 2010, according to technical analysts at respect-                     adaptation of the EU agreement on transportation
ed market research company Frost & Sullivan.                             of dangerous goods by road (ADR) because they are
‘Cars with batteries are currently driving on nickel-                    classified as dangerous goods by the United Nations.
                                                                         Battery bulk containing more than 333 kg of lithium       Despite battery collection efforts to date, the
                                                                                                                                   proportion of primary batteries collected
                                                                         batteries is fully subject to ADR regulations, and par-   (15%) is far lower than the EU’s current target
                                                                                                                                   of 25% for 2012.
                                                                         tially subject for volumes of between 30 and 333 kg.
                                                                         Lithium-containing batteries must be transported in
                                                                         a drum within a special kind of plastic bag, according    Having noted that the disposal
                                                                         to a proposal introduced by EBRA and EPBA during          volumes are still very low in
                                                                         a meeting with the UN Committee for Transport of          Canada, Mr Bury added: ‘We do
                                                                         Dangerous Goods in September 2006.                        need to do more on recycling.’
                                                                            According to Dr Jeong-Soo Sohn from the Korea             There is no effective battery
                                                                         Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources             recycling scheme in China even
                                                                         (KIGAM), there still is no efficient way to recycle       though the world’s most populous
                                                                         lithium batteries. Dr Sohn identified the costliness      country is a giant both in terms
                                                                         of existing methods as the reason why a large pro-        of the production and consump-
                                                                         portion of spent lithium batteries are either await-      tion of batteries. Statistics put
                                                                         ing recycling or are being landfilled. Primary lithi-     annual world consumption of dry
The magnificent neo-gothic Hungarian Parliament building is located at
the Donau river bank in Budapest.
                                                                         um batteries vary considerably in size, componen-         batteries at 35 billion, with
                                                                         try and voltage, thus making it difficult to develop a    China consuming 18 billion of
                                                                         recycling process.                                        this total. This is a conservative
   Swiss aim even higher                                                    In his speech, Dr Sohn explained about a process       estimate which takes into
      Is a battery recycling rate of 80% truly possi-                    whereby, in preparation for the recovery of metals,       account production and sales
   ble? The Swiss say ‘yes’. Currently 67% of all                        batteries are crushed after discharge without caus-       only of licensed battery factories.
   spent batteries and accumulators in Switzerland                       ing an explosion.                                         Just 1% is returned for recycling
   are recycled, but Martin Meyer of the Water                                                                                     in China, said Professor Qing
   Protection and Waste Management Agency is                                        Receiving global attention                     Sun from Beijing Information
   ambitious to raise that level to four-fifths of all                      The EBRA/EPBA congress, which was organised            Technology Institute ‘Our only
   consumer batteries.                                                   by Swiss specialist ICM, was attended by a record         two specialised recycling facili-
      Prior to 1980, all batteries in Switzerland                        number of people from non-EU countries. This fact         ties have just closed because it
   were consigned to landfill where they polluted                        prompted Congress Chairman Dr Scrosati to sug-            was unclear who had to foot the
   the groundwater and released toxic gases. In                          gest that consideration should be given to staging        costs,’ she observed.
   1986, a far-reaching regulation came into force                       next year’s event outside Europe.
   which obliged producers to collect the batteries                         Delegates from Japan, China, Canada and the USA
   free of charge. A prepaid disposal charge was                         described their countries’ positions on battery recy-        Conference
   introduced by the INOBAT industry grouping                            cling. The conclusion could be drawn that the EU and         proceedings for sale
   appointed to organise collection and financing.                       Switzerland are leading the way in their recycling               The complete proceedings of
   At incineration plants, meanwhile, new filter                         efforts. Although many countries have developed bat-         the 12th International Congress
   systems reduced the emission of pollutants.                           tery collection programmes, these are not always fully       of Battery Recycling can be
      All of these steps have led to collection rates                    supported by governments and consumers. According            purchased from congress
   equivalent to two-thirds of battery sales, which                      to Duncan Bury from the Canadian Ministry of                 organiser ICM for Euro 350/
   still leaves 1100 tonnes per annum destined for                       Environment, collection is bound up in a political           US$ 480, including postage &
   incineration. According to Mr Meyer, it should                        struggle since it is partly a federal and partly a           packing.
   be possible to collect 20% of the batteries from                      provincial responsibility. ‘We foresee the disposal              For more information or to
   the incineration slag, thus raising collection lev-                   quantities growing as the market for portable power          purchase the proceedings, vis-
   els to 85%.                                                           grows; however, we are lacking data to set up effective      it:
                                                                         research. Companies don’t want to release their data.’

      Recycling International • July/August 2007                                                                                                                               5

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