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Major shift to wireless products has big consequences for global battery industry

Portugal – ‘I’d say the market is divided 50-50 when it comes to wireless or wired products,’ announced Colin Thirlaway of power tools producer Stanley Black & Decker at the annual International Conference for Battery Recycling in Lisbon. The ‘cordless craze’ extends from vacuum cleaners to drills. In the next couple of years, he believes it is likely the figures will shift to 70% in favour of wireless battery-driven solutions, especially for larger and heavier consumer products.

Demand for power tools in general is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of more than 5% to US$ 36.2 billion by 2020. And a new report from Future Market Insights states that approximately 200 million electric power tools were sold globally in 2015 compared to roughly 88 million pneumatic power tools.

In terms of battery type, it is concluded that lithium-ion batteries have overtaken Ni-Cd as the preferred choice of power tool manufacturers. ‘It is essential that we know our products’ makeup,’ Thirlaway told delegates, although he was quick to add: ‘We haven’t got our minds around the theme of second use – not yet.’

The design and engineering team at Stanley Black & Decker decided to use the same battery for more than 10 different products. ‘Not with a sustainable benefit in mind, I have to admit,’ Thirlaway remarked. ‘Rather, we were thinking about the ease of use for the consumer. The end result is the same: less fuss at end-of-life stage. I suppose some missions go hand in hand.’

The full ICBR report will be published in the upcoming issue of Recycling International.

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