Although separate collection systems for portable batteries (PBs) have been installed years ago, high amounts of batteries still do not enter the collection systems of the member states of the European Union (EU). In Austria, the collection rate has recently dropped to the EU target value of 45%. For the purposes of this study, a comprehensive survey was conducted to identify the destinations of the other end-of-life batteries. A literature survey and an assessment of different waste streams (WSs) were followed by sampling and sorting campaigns for highly relevant WSs (residual waste, lightweight packaging waste, metal packaging waste, and small waste electrical and electronic equipment). The results underwent material flow analysis, showing that more than 800 metric tonnes of portable batteries are misplaced into non-battery-specific collection systems, 718 metric tonnes of them entering residual waste collection. Considerable amounts of batteries are stockpiled, stored or hoarded in Austrian households. Lithium-based batteries, representing a serious risk of fire to the waste industry and making up for 30% of the marketed amount, are still scarcely arriving in waste management systems.
Keywords: Lithium-ion battery; contaminant; misthrow; risk management; waste fires.