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EPA Victoria issues Envirostream Australia with 99-year operating licence for battery recycling

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The EPA Victoria-issued operating licence provides the environmental and legal
    framework for Envirostream Australia to continue battery recycling activities at
    its premises in Campbellfield, Victoria.
  • The licence permits Envirostream Australia to process more than 500 tonnes of
    specified electronic waste annually.

Comment from Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin

“EPA licensing of our Victorian battery recycling facility for the next 99 years ensures that environmental safeguards are in place for the ever-increasing battery utilisation required to decarbonise the economy.

“Australia has an environmental duty of care to establish compliant recycling facilities that can safely process the expected increase in volume of end-of-life batteries, providing sustainable materials for this critically important manufacturing sector and reducing environmental pollution – the legacy of what has until now been a poorly managed industry.

“As part of the process of obtaining that 99-year licence, Lithium Australia and Envirostream Australia worked together to develop specific, in-house improvements that enhance safety in the collection, storage and processing of spent batteries and further reduce any fire risk associated with their recycling. We lead the industry in that respect.

“The roll-out of a national battery stewardship scheme that commoditises spent batteries and discourages their disposal in landfill is imminent and this will certainly increase the volume of spent batteries available for recycling.”

Introduction

Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT, ‘the Company’) 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 end-of-life lithium-ion batteries (‘LIBs’), as well as single use alkaline batteries. This makes it a perfect fit with the Company’s critical battery metal-processing expertise.

In July 2019, Victoria banned the disposal of spent batteries to landfill, given that many contain toxic materials capable of polluting soil, groundwater and waterways. As the only mixed battery recycler in Australia, Envirostream is focused on diverting as much battery material from landfill as possible, as well as improving the sustainability of the industry via the creation of a circular battery economy.

The volumes of spent batteries available for recycling is expected to increase following recent announcements by the Battery Stewardship Council that it has secured federal government and industry funding to establish an accredited process for their collection and recycling. Scheduled to commence in January 2022, the Battery Stewardship Scheme will collect a levy on each new battery sold and use the funds to subsidise the collection and processing of end-of-life batteries.

Envirostream works closely with the appropriate regulatory bodies to ensure that its management systems and safety and environmental procedures exceed industry accepted standards, thereby minimising any risk to local communities. Its focus on continuous improvement ensures that battery recycling in Australia remains safe, environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Operating Licence

In 2020, using EPA Victoria’s long-route licence pathway, Envirostream applied for an operating licence for its activity site in Berwick Road, Campbellfield, Victoria. The prescribed permission activities under section 74(1)(a) of the Environment Protection Act 2017 allow Envirostream to reprocess specified electronic waste, including batteries, at a capacity exceeding 500 tonnes per year.

That licence is valid for 99 years, subject to several conditions, including the installation of thermal-imaging cameras and firewall protection systems for the early detection and management of any fire incidents that may arise. Conditions for air emission are also stipulated.

A change-of-land-use application for the Berwick Road premises is currently in progress at the Hume City Council. Envirostream has complied with all requests for information from the council and the Company expects that this application too will be approved.

Keeping it safe

Environmental protection and sustainability Envirostream is Australia’s national leader in battery recycling, providing sustainable solutions for the disposal of end-of-life batteries (‘EOL’) and the ‘rebirthing’ of the energy metals contained…