The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today published its latest report on consumer product safety and lithium-ion or Li-ion batteries – the type of batteries used in personal electronic devices, renewable energy storage, and e-vehicles. The report, available here in pdf and audio form, is part of the ACCC’s 2022-23 and 2023-234 priority on product safety and details 6 recommendations to improve Li-ion battery safety for Australian Consumers.
The six recommendations are:
? Recommendation 1 (Incident data): Commonwealth, state, and territory governments shouldACCC Report, ‘Lithium-ion batteries and consumer product safety’, October 2023, p.5, https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Lithium-ion%20Batteries%20report_2.pdf.
improve, expand and standardise data collection practices around the hazards posed by
consumer electrical products, including Li-ion batteries. Wherever practicable and to the extent
permitted by law, Li-ion incident data should be regularly shared among stakeholders to facilitate
a better understanding of emerging risks and hazards.
? Recommendation 2 (Consumer safety): Consumers should have clear and accessible
educational resources on Li-ion battery safety.
? Recommendation 3 (Disposal and end-of-life): The Australian Government and industry should
continue to develop infrastructure, regulation and supporting policies to enable the safe and
efficient collection and recycling of Li-ion batteries.
? Recommendation 4 (Regulatory landscape): State and territory governments should build a
fit-for-purpose, nationally consistent regulatory framework for electrical consumer products,
supported by the Australian Government.
? Recommendation 5 (Regulations): State and territory electrical safety regulators should
introduce, administer and enforce clear requirements for the testing, labelling transportation and
storage of Li-ion batteries and products containing Li-ion batteries. These requirements should be
consistent across all jurisdictions.
? Recommendation 6 (Online platforms): Regulators including the ACCC and state and territory
Australian Consumer Law and electrical safety regulators, continue to work with online platforms
regarding risks and hazards arising from products containing Li-ion batteries being sold online.
In-short, for the safe use of lithium-ion batteries in Australia more cohesive information, education, regulation, and infrastructure is necessary at and between state and territory levels with support by the Federal Government. The ACCC’s report also highlights that just as the approach to improving consumer product safety with Li-ion batteries is ‘multi-faceted’ the batteries themselves are also complex.
Additionally, though government intervention would be welcomed by both consumer groups and retailers, gaps in the current Australian Consumer Law and the use of a mandatory standard (a likely complex piece of legislation in itself) would see regulation fall to broad consumer-oriented regulators such as the ACCC rather than to specialist energy regulators. The recommendations to education, information, safe disposal, and cohesive change to the regulatory framework at and between the state and territory levels offers means to improve consumer product safety in the present and gather more information on how best to tackle the issue further in the future.
For the report itself please see: https://www.accc.gov.au/about-us/publications/lithium-ion-batteries-and-consumer-product-safety
For the ACCC’s media release on the report see: https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/consumers-urged-to-use-and-store-lithium-ion-batteries-safely-to-prevent-deadly-fires