The mobile telecommunications sector is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. However, increasingly stringent environmental regulations are placing pressure on manufacturers to accept responsibility for end of life products. The companies are therefore exploring avenues to recover the valuable components contained within the mobile telecommunications devices thus reducing the quantities of toxic components going to landfill. Batteries used to power the devices,
are typically based on either nickel-cadmium, nickel metal hydride, or lithium ion cells. They contain toxic metals including nickel, cadmium, lithium, potassium, lead, and cobalt in a complicated arrangement of battery cells surrounded by a metals then plastic casing. The Ausmelt Catalytic Waste Converter (CWC) for waste treatment and recycling is well suited to processing all three mobile phone battery types for the recovery of valuable metals in marketable products that
can be recycled to industry without turning out harmful levels of toxic emissions. Ausmelt recently demonstrated the capabilities of its CWC by continuously processing 4.5 tonnes of nickel-cadmium batteries. Using Ausmelt's pilot plant facility in Australia, the nickel-cadmium batteries were processed to produce a nickel iron sulphide (matte), a cadmium fume and a final slag which satisfied US toxicity leach test criteria and was safe for disposal to landfill. This paper explores the commercial development of the Ausmelt CWC for treating each of the three battery types in light of (a) the outcomes of the recent demonstration, and (b) the current and expected future availability of batteries for processing.