Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT) has a 90% ownership interest in Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd (‘Envirostream’).
An onshore mixed-battery recycling company, Envirostream is unique in Australia in its ability to collect, sort, shred and separate all the components of spent lithium-ion batteries (‘LIBs’), as well as single-use alkaline batteries. This makes it a perfect fit with Lithium Australia’s critical battery-metal-processing expertise.
Envirostream’s management solutions for what is fast becoming one of the biggest challenges for the domestic waste industry are safe, innovative and sustainable. Management of this waste material has risen to prominence following the Victorian government’s banning of e-waste disposal in landfill, put in place on 1 July 2019. Currently, Australia-wide, the amount of e-waste is growing three times faster than that of general waste, and much of that e-waste includes spent lithium-ion batteries (‘LIBs’), the recycling of which is Envirostream’s principal area of expertise.
Envirostream, which already has agreements with a number of retailers and manufacturers regarding the stewardship of spent batteries, is in the process of expanding its collection network nationally, using safe, reliable units that are fully compliant with Australian standards.
Batteries, and spent LIBs in particular, contain toxic electrolyte components that, unless appropriately managed, can be released into the environment during recycling. Through extensive research and development, Envirostream has established a process for recycling spent LIBs that safely captures those electrolyte components in liquid form.
Now, Sustainability Victoria has confirmed its support for Envirostream’s ‘Electrolyte Management in Rechargeable Battery Recycling’ project under Round 2 of its E-Waste Infrastructure Grants, allocating Envirostream $201,399 of funding for that project.
Round 2 of the E-Waste Infrastructure Grants prioritises e-waste reprocessing capability and capacity, as well as the collection and storage of e-waste, through investment in fixed, semi-permanent e-waste infrastructure upgrades and alternate non-fixed collection and storage solutions.
Battery stewardship in Australia is set to become a reality and Envirostream is already prepared. Its electrolyte management project will allow it to safely increase production capacity at its battery recycling facility in Victoria as its battery retrieval network expands to cope with the increasing quantities of properly discarded spent LIBs that the stewardship scheme will deliver.
Comment from Lithium Australia MD Adrian Griffin
“With battery stewardship imminent, and a growing need for new industries and technology to boost employment, Lithium Australia and Envirostream wish to acknowledge the support of the Victorian state government in providing the funds for this very timely grant.
Our research into identifying and containing toxic battery electrolyte materials continues apace, with Lithium Australia’s technical expertise in this regard ably supported by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). Both Lithium Australia and Envirostream are fully committed to sound ESG principles and, together, aim to ensure that noxious waste streams from spent batteries are recycled for the benefit the entire industry. This will create a circular battery supply chain and ameliorate the impacts of mining on fragile ecosystems.
Image credit: Lithium Australia’s YouTube Channel