Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT) is aiming to ‘close the loop’ on the energy-metal cycle by adding another opportunity to utilise offtake from its ground-breaking battery recycling operations.
As part of its commitment to a circular battery economy the company recently assessed the use of zinc and manganese recovered from recycled alkaline batteries as micro-nutrient supplements in fertilisers.
Alkaline MMD is produced by the company’s wholly owned subsidiary Envirostream Australia Pty Ltd at its spent-battery recycling facility in Victoria, Australia.
Envirostream collects the spent alkaline batteries from pick-up points at numerous locations, including Bunnings, Officeworks and Cleanaway. After sorting, the alkaline batteries are mechanically shredded, with the cathode and anode active compounds (collectively referred to as MMD) separated.
That material 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.
Glasshouse pot trials have nowbeen competed under the direction of the Company’s consulting agronomist.
Nine tests were conducted on a quadruplicate basis to statistically assess MMD performance as a fertiliser against control samples.
The company found the results to be encouraging enough for it to commit to the next stage of assessment
Lithium Australia MD, Adrian Griffin, says annual sales of alkaline batteries in Australia total around 6,000 tonnes. In 2019, Australia’s Battery Stewardship Council estimated that, at the end of their useful life, 97% of those batteries were disposed of in municipal waste streams and reported to landfill.
“Sustainable and ethical supply of critical materials is a global challenge. Recycling all the metals within spent batteries is something that’s rarely done effectively, which is why it remains a target for the company,” Mr Griffin said.
“We have not limited ourselves to recycling only lithium-ion batteries but, rather, have included alkaline batteries in a bid to eliminate all such items from landfill.
“We’re cognizant of the environmental implications of burying such ‘waste’ and encourage all consumers to join us in recycling every spent battery for the benefit of the environment now for the sake of the future.”