Did you know that each year in the UK we throw away around 600 million batteries? Laid end to end these batteries would reach from the UK to Australia and back again. Furthermore, according to Directgov, over 12,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions could be avoided if the country can meet its target of recycling at least 45 per cent of batteries by 2016. Our UK target for 2012 is 25%. As at 2009, approximately only 3% of all household batteries are currently recycled in the UK.
Batteries can be found in every room in the house. They're used in toys, remote controls, mobile phones, alarm clocks and even doorbells. In fact, every person in Britain uses about 10 batteries a year.
Most batteries are put into rubbish bins and then taken to landfill sites. There are lots of types of batteries which can contain dangerous chemicals (including lead, cadmium, zinc, lithium and even mercury). When batteries begin to rot away in landfill sites these chemicals may leak into the ground which can cause soil and water pollution. This can be harmful to animals, humans and the environment. Recycling is a great way to help protect the environment. Each battery placed in the recycling bin will be taken apart and the materials will be used to make something new.
The EC directive on Batteries and Accumulators and Waste Batteries and Accumulators (2006/66/EC) was published on the 26th September 2006 and aims to improve the environmental performance of batteries and accumulators and minimise the impact waste batteries and accumulators has on the environment. The Directive achieves these aims by placing requirements on the design of all new batteries and maximising the separate collection, treatment and recycling of waste batteries and accumulators reducing the disposal of batteries and accumulators in the municipal waste stream. This aspiration is consistent with the UK Government sustainable development and waste strategies.
Key requirements of the Directive include:
- Restrictions on the use of cadmium and mercury in the design and manufacture of new batteries (subject to exemption and review).
- Labelling requirements – all new batteries to be marked with a crossed out wheeled bin symbol and the appropriate chemical symbol where applicable.
- Registration of all 'producers' e.g. manufacturers or importers of batteries into the UK.
- Collection targets for waste portable batteries of 25% of average annual sales in the UK by 2012, rising to 45% in 2016.
- A ban on the disposal of untreated automotive and industrial batteries in landfill or by incineration.
- A requirement for 'producers' or third parties acting on their behalf to arrange for the collection and recycling of waste industrial and automotive batteries.
- Requirement for 'producers' or third parties acting on their behalf to arrange for the collection and recycling and/or sound disposal of waste portable batteries deposited at collection facilities.
The Battery Directive has been transposed into UK law through two new statutory instruments:
- The Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008 which became law in September 2008. These regulations place restrictions on mercury and cadmium and apply labelling requirements for new batteries to aid consumer choice and recycling including the crossed out wheeled bin symbol.
- The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009 which became law on 5 May 2009. These regulations introduce treatment standards and "producer responsibility" including targets for the collection and recovery of waste batteries.
So what does this mean?
As individuals we should deposit all our used and old batteries at the appropriate recycle centres, recycle banks or recycle bins in retail outlets. To find out where your nearest recycle centre is, why not visitwww.recycle-more.co.uk and click on the Bank Locator.
From February 2010 shops selling more than 32kg of batteries a year (approximately 345 x Packs of 4 AA Batteries) will have to provide a battery recycling collection facility in-store. The shop owner will need to contact one of the Battery Compliance Schemes (BCSs) and discuss directly with them what service they offer. Do they provide the collection bins? How often is the bin emptied? For more information on BCSs, please visit, www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/regulation/107939.aspx and download the full list of Battery Compliance Scheme operators and choose one to suit you. More information is available at www.valpak.co.uk
Online internet sellers and eBay resellers operating from home and selling more than 32kg per year still have a legal obligation to provide a take-back facility at your point of distribution. You are however welcome to inform customers of other collection points, in addition to your own, which may be more convenient for them.
We at Granada Batteries are committed to helping reach the targets and now offer a battery recycling take-back facility at our premises. Waste portable batteries can now be handed in at our premises for recycling. Please note used and old batteries should not be posted back to us. Our address details are clearly shown in the contact us information.
Battery Producer No. BPRN06911