A First in Thailand - Kick Off of Full-Scale Used Battery Recycling Initiative, Transforming Waste into Economic Value in Support of Circular Economy - Siam Outlook


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Saturday, March 23, 2024

A First in Thailand - Kick Off of Full-Scale Used Battery Recycling Initiative, Transforming Waste into Economic Value in Support of Circular Economy

Panasonic Energy (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (PECTH), UMC Metals Ltd. (UMC Metals) and CP All Public Company Limited (CP All) announced the success of the 'Circular Economy Initiative through Battery Recycling Project,' leveraging the ECOARC™ Furnace—a technology melting used batteries to take back reusable materials for economic value. Only Panasonic batteries are capable of undergoing this melting and extracting reusable materials, for being a battery which does not contain environmentally harmful substances. Moreover, building on last year's partnership with CP All to establish used battery collection boxes at 7-Eleven stores, the project targets 1,000 stores within 2024, allowing more used batteries to be collected and to be brought into the Circular Economy.

Mr. Takuya Tanimoto, Managing Director of Panasonic Energy (Thailand) Co., Ltd.,
 said, "Each year, Thailand consumes over 300 million batteries, with used batteries often dumped or disposed of in landfills. These practices, however, are becoming increasingly problematic while the landfill space is limited. Thus, PECTH has initiated a program to take back used batteries from consumers and recycle them to create new economic value in line with the Circular Economy principles.”

For years, PECTH has sought partners with a shared vision. The process began with submitting battery samples to a research project on recycling technology for used batteries and production waste, at the Department of Primary Industries and Mines (DPIM), Ministry of Industry. Collaboration expanded with UMC Metals in steel recycling, providing metal and non-metallic scrap recycling for the project. Furthermore, PECTH has partnered with CP All, to establish used battery collection boxes at 7-Eleven stores. This initiative started with 31 stores in 2022, expanded to 50 in 2023.

PECTH is now authorized by the Department of Industrial Works to process the recycling of materials from batteries into steel and is ready to fully operate the 'Circular Economy Initiative through Battery Recycling Project.' By melting batteries into various materials with the ECOARC™ Furnace, which employs energy-saving and environmentally friendly technology, they are transformed into billet products for resale in the steel industry. Other economically valuable materials from the process include steel slag suitable for use in general landfills and EAF (electric arc furnaces) dust that can be recycled into zinc oxide, with PECTH exploring the potential to reintroduce it as a raw material for battery production in the next step.

“This project is the first of its kind in Thailand, successfully recycling used batteries and reducing waste in the ecosystem. It shall bring back materials into the economic system, making it a circular economy,” said Mr. Tanimoto

Mr. Settawut Yinmongkhol, Managing Director of UMC Metals Ltd., 
said "UMC Metals is a manufacturer and distributor of industrial-standard quality steel with long experience in the steel smelting industry. The 'Circular Economy Initiative through Battery Recycling Project' utilizes a high-efficiency ECOARC™ Furnace to melt batteries into various materials. This Japanese-devel

oped prototype furnace prioritizes energy-saving, environmental concerns, pollution treatment, and dioxin elimination before release. Located at UMC Metals in Chonburi Province, the furnace represents unique technology in Thailand, resulting from collaboration between the Thai government through the Department of Industrial Promotion, the Ministry of Industry, and the Japanese government through the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).”

The used batteries collected from the collection boxes at 7-Eleven are transported to UMC Metals in Chonburi Province for melting. There, they are melted with scrap steel in a specific ratio using a skip car to drop materials into the ECOARC™ Furnace. Once the melting is complete, it emerges as liquid steel, further processed in a ladle furnace for compositional adjustments before being cast into billets for sale to the steel industry.

“The unique feature of the ECOARC™ Furnace is its ability to filter wastes and convert them into economically valuable materials. These materials include steel slag suitable for general landfills, scale usable as a raw cement material, and EAF dust recyclable into zinc oxide. The furnace filters pollutants through a Bag House Filter before releasing them into the air,” said Mr. Settawut.

Mr. Tanimoto added, "Since launching collection boxes at 7-Eleven shops last year, gradually used batteries are brought back from consumers to the collection box. This year, with support from CP All, we are expanding the collection boxes to 1,000 stores. Expanding the number of collection boxes in 7-Eleven stores will allow the used batteries to be collected more in the Circular Economy. This initiative will continue furthermore, seeking for the ultimate goal, used batteries to new batteries as being the first in Thailand for full-scale used battery recycling supporting Circular Economy.”


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