Battery Materials for a Circular Economy

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Advancing Certification and Improving Life-Cycle Analysis for Market Advantage

 A new report highlights how Australia could benefit from sustainability certification of battery materials and developing demonstrably sustainable supply chains. 

The report, ‘Certification and Life Cycle Analysis of Australian Battery Materials – Drivers and Options’ underpins a collaborative project on establishing Australian industries as socially and environmentally responsible suppliers of battery minerals and materials for a circular economy.

The report was commissioned by the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC), led by the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney and The University of Melbourne.

Damien Giurco, Professor of Resource Futures at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, said “This stage of the project was focussed on lithium and the electrical vehicle sector in Europe whilst the full project will cover a broader range of battery materials and help industry develop pathways to certification.”

“Currently, the lack of accessible data and a common approach makes it difficult for Australian companies to evidence claims of strong social and environmental performance and to support design for a circular economy.”

Jessica Robinson, General Manager, Critical Minerals Facilitation Office said, “Australia has the opportunity to be a global leader in the ethical and environmentally responsible supply of key critical minerals.”

“Expanding supply and meeting this growing demand is a key part of Australia’s Critical Minerals Strategy.”

Consumer facing industries using batteries, such as car manufacturers and electronics, are under considerable consumer pressure to ensure the sustainability of their products, particularly regarding human rights and environmental impacts.

The report reviewed the main voluntary sustainability initiatives (VSIs), certification schemes and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tools that could apply to lithium, as well as the main sustainability certification schemes for other metals.

FBICRC CEO, Stedman Ellis, said, “We are investing in research that will establish mechanisms for certification and provenance of Australian critical minerals, to provide Australian data to assist the industry to meet customer requirements.”

“Proving that critical minerals originated in Australia, and that it was mined in an ethical, socially responsible and environmentally sustainable way, will be essential.”

This scene setting project provides important inputs to the full four-year project, Battery Materials for a Circular Economy, which was approved by the FBICRC Board in June.

A copy of the report is available here.  A webinar providing an overview of the report and a panel discussion will be held on Wednesday, 23rd September 2020.  Register here.

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