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Can used batteries power plants?
Lithium Australia is conducting trials to see if mixed metal
dust from used batteries can be used as fertiliser with so-called
Around 6 000 tonnes of alkaline batteries are sold annually in
Australia. An estimated 97% of these are disposed of in munici-
pal waste streams and most go to landfill, according to the
nation’s Battery Stewardship Council. Now Lithium Australia
aims to ‘close the energy-metal cycle’ in a sustainable manner.
It claims zinc and manganese dust recovered from discarded
batteries can benefit the agricultural sector.
The alkaline dust is produced by the company’s Envirostream
subsidiary at its spent-battery recycling facility in Victoria. Spent
batteries are collected from pick-up points at various locations,
including offices and stores. After sorting, they are mechanically
shredded with the cathode and anode active compounds sepa-
‘The battery dust contains high levels of zinc and manganese
and minor amounts of graphite and potassium. The zinc and
manganese are of the most interest as fertiliser micro-nutrients,’
Lithium Australia says.
Initial results were encouraging enough for the company to
commit to the next stage of the experiment. ‘Recycling all the
metals within spent batteries is something that’s rarely done
effectively, which is why it remains a target for us,’ says manag-
ing director Adrian Griffin.
‘We have not limited ourselves to recycling only lithium-ion bat-
teries but, rather, have included alkaline batteries in a bid to
eliminate all such items from landfill,’ Griffin adds, underlining
the importance of recycling critical metals.
‘We’re cognisant of the environmental implications of burying
such “waste” and encourage all consumers to join us in recy-
cling every spent battery for the benefit of the environment
now, for the sake of the future.’
restoring the oCeans one bottle at a time
Soft drinks producer Coca Cola plans to build a plastic bottle
recycling facility in Indonesia. It could be a milestone for sustain-
ability in the country as it has a reputation for being one of the
world’s worst plastic polluters.
Coca Cola has signed a deal with plastic packaging company
Dynapack Asia for a feasibility study on developing the facility, the
Jakarta Post reports. The soft drinks manufacturer has also pledged
to cut Indonesia’s consumption of new plastic resin by 25 000
tonnes a year by 2022 by using more recycled plastic. Coca Cola
products are known to be one of the main sources of marine litter.
‘It is a significant step toward becoming self-sustaining in the plas-
tic materials we use, ensuring a closed loop for plastic beverage
packaging in Indonesia as a whole,’ says Kadir Gunduz, president
director of Coca Cola Amatil Indonesia.
In support of a circular economy, Dynapack aims to include at least
25% recycled plastic in its production from 2025. Company presi-
dent Tirtadjaja Hambali says the goal is part of its commitment to
the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
These developments follow various studies detailing the scale of
the plastic pollution problem in Southeast Asia. Indonesia ranks
second in the global list of ocean plastic hotspots. That’s why the
country has outlined an ambitious objective to cut plastic waste by
70% by 2025 as its contribution to the global National Plastic
metal reCyCling seCtor to maKe
‘fairly rapid’ reCovery
The value of the global metal recy-
cling sector is forecast to reach EUR 80
billion by 2027, according to new fig-
ures from research specialist FD
Reports & Data. The biggest drivers
are said to be a growing desire to cut
energy costs and increasing consumer
awareness of ‘circular’ products.
‘The metal recycling market is growing due to the high
demand for steel and the rapid industrialisation and urban-
isation in emerging nations,’ the analysts state. Other fac-
tors quoted are a scarcity of rare earth metals and ever
more ambitious recycling legislation.
‘Factors that will restrict the global market are the unorgan-
ised flow of waste metals and fewer scrap collection zones,’
they add. The increasing cost of raw materials and high
labour charges are also seen as hindering demand.
The global supply of recycled metals has slumped this year
because of the coronavirus. ‘Demand plummeted in China,
and then the rest of the world, as the pandemic led to
industries and factories shutting down. It also hit a pause
button on consumer spending,’ the report says.
The infrastructure sector is not expected to see any imme-
diate growth in the wake of the virus. Meanwhile, consum-
ers around the world are faced with reduced or lost
incomes. Manufacturers are also witnessing higher prices
for copper, steel, and other raw materials. This is likely to
make recycled metal more appealing than virgin metal.
Looking ahead, FD Report & Data believes the recycling
market will witness a fairly rapid recovery. ‘This is possible
based on pent-up consumer demand after stay-at-home
orders are rescinded.’
However, it says such a scenario is not guaranteed as recov-
ery involves not only the return of positive household con-
sumer sentiment but also the ability and willingness of gov-
ernments to inject money into infrastructure and other pub-
lic works projects.
fraunhofer reCovers up to 98% of valu-
able e-sCrap metals
A consortium of recycling players
has developed a fully automated
method to disassemble electronic
devices and recover a high per-
centage of the precious metals in
components. The innovative solu-
tion focuses on tantalum, neodym-
ium, tungsten, cobalt and gallium.
The process has resulted from the EU’s four-year ADIR project which
has been led by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology
and involved eight project partners from three countries. Together, they
processed around 1 000 mobile phones and 800 printed circuit boards
Project supervisor Dr Cord Fricke-Begemann says the pilot disassembly
plant relies on a combination of laser technology, robotics, vision sys-
tems and information technology. The lasers are able to accurately
identify materials used in each component in a fast, non-contact pro-
cess while they are being cut from boards or de-soldered.
‘The patented procedure is an efficient means of recovering strategical-
ly important materials of high economic value on an industrial scale,’
reports Fricke-Bergmann. ‘We’ve seen a great deal of interest from
experts.’ He says Electrocycling was an important project partner as
the first field tests were held at its facility in late 2018.
The recycler used the ADIR demonstrator – consisting of seven inter-
linked machines – to show how the new processes can recover between
96% and 98% of the tantalum from capacitors. This is significantly high-
er proportion than the tantalum ore concentrates offered by suppliers
of virgin raw material.
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