NSW Leading Action To Prevent Battery Fires


At the Environment Ministers’ Meeting in Sydney today, Ministers agreed to take urgent action to help prevent potentially deadly battery fires.

During the meeting at Taronga Zoo, Ministers determined that New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria will work together to lead action on reforms to Australia’s product stewardship arrangements for all batteries.

Product stewardship is the act of minimising the health, safety and environmental impacts of a product and its packaging throughout the entire lifecycle. The state’s Container Deposit Scheme is an example of one successful type of product stewardship model.

Ongoing fires caused by batteries, notably lithium-ion batteries embedded inside a range of devices, show the critical importance of acting quickly to protect lives and property.

In response, Environment Ministers have agreed to accelerate work towards reforming the product stewardship arrangements for all batteries, acknowledging that intervention is needed through the entire lifecycle of a battery or battery-powered device.

This includes looking at options to improve the design, packaging, importation, storage and disposal of batteries.

A key focus will be on creating financial incentives to ensure the safe disposal of all types of batteries, reducing the chances of batteries ending up in our bins and landfills.

NSW will immediately start work on a draft Regulatory Impact Statement, which will assess the costs and benefits of product stewardship models. It will also consider how reforms would relate to existing product stewardship schemes, such as the B-Cycle scheme.

New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland will also start work on model legislation.

This work will enable governments to quickly identify the best reform option to reduce the risk of fires, support the battery recycling sector and deliver the most cost-effective and efficient approach for businesses and consumers.

Ministers acknowledged work already done by Queensland on safe battery disposal and discussed the issue of managing the risks of batteries as a matter of priority.

NSW Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe said:

“Fire and Rescue NSW attended more than 270 lithium-ion battery fires in 2023 alone, but we know this is just a small fraction of the true number of battery fires. When batteries are not stored or disposed of properly, they can threaten lives and cause extensive damage to properties and waste infrastructure.

“Ministers from around the country have agreed it is time for urgent action to protect our communities. NSW is proud to work with Victoria and QLD on a regulatory approach for batteries, to drive better design and disposal.”

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