Nyrstar plans to recycle 88 million household batteries a year and keep them out of landfill

Eighty-eight million — up to 2,000 tonnes — of single-use household batteries from across the country will be recycled each year at Port Pirie’s smelter site.

Port Pirie’s smelter operator Nyrstar has become the country’s first B-cycle accredited recycler to recover commodity-grade quality metals from alkaline batteries for international markets, after the company received accreditation from the Battery Stewardship Council.

Commercial grade zinc and copper will be extracted from single-use alkaline batteries sent to the site from across Australia, which will return to international commodity markets.

On average, Australians use about 8,000 tonnes of alkaline batteries a year, with a significant proportion of those batteries ending up in landfill.

South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas made the announcement at Nyrstar’s site yesterday, saying those batteries would now be recycled from Port Pirie.

They had previously been sent to landfill.

Mr Malinauskas said the project represented a new phase in the life of Nyrstar’s plant.

“This is South Australia, not just being part of the circular economy, but leading it. Which is everything we want to be doing as a state.

He said it was important for the state to be “part of industries of the future and recalibrating industry to make sure that the decarbonisation process is something that happens here in South Australia for our economic benefit and the benefit of the environment globally.”

The site in Port Pirie is initially expected to recycle up to 2,000 tonnes per year, equating to approximately 88 million AA alkaline batteries.

Nyrstar’s Vice President Dale Webb said the recycling would take place inside existing infrastructure at the company’s multi-metals processing facility.

He said the facility would have the capacity to expand and treat up to 8,000 tonnes of batteries in the future.

“This is an example that we can support a sustainable future in Australia,” he said.

Mr Webb said while the copper from the batteries would be produced at the Port Pirie site, the zinc would be sent to Nrystar’s base in Hobart to be processed into green zinc.

“The rest of the material goes to our black sand, which will then become a product in the future green cement project in Port Augusta,” he said.

Mr Webb said he looked forward to further exploring further recycling opportunities at the site in the future.

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