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Battery trials: UK can achieve recycling targets

The results of the Waste & Resources Action Programmes (WRAP) three-year battery collection trials have highlighted that a mixture of collection options will be needed to achieve the 2012 and 2016 targets.

The report entitled Household battery collection trials April 2005 March 2008 suggests that collection schemes such as kerbside collection, retail take-back, community drop-off, postal and NHS and Fire Service collections will help the UK to meet its recycling targets.

Under the Batteries Directive the UK will have to collect 25% of waste portable batteries by 2012. Industry stakeholders have raised doubts over how the collection system would be implemented and how consumers will be educated to encourage them to recycle more batteries.
The trials, which varied in length, involved 940,000 households across the UK and looked at the most cost-efficient way to collect batteries. It is expected to feed into draft regulations which are due out before the end of the year.

Over the course of the trial an estimated 3.8 million batteries were collected at kerbside; at retail take-back, (including branches of Tesco, Argos, Homebase and Currys), 415,000 batteries were collected At community drop-off points 230,000 batteries were collected; while postal collection rates collected 109,000 batteries.

The cost of setting up and running each of the WRAP trials was also analysed. Results showed that it cost £3,800 for a kerbside service run by the community sector compared with £10,800 for postal collection schemes and £8,100 for retailer take-back.

The report made several recommendations as to how a national infrastructure for battery collection might be established in the UK. It says that local authorities should be encouraged to collect batteries through, for example, kerbside collection schemes, as these types of schemes have shown the best per capital collection rate.

However, WRAP said that local authorities must be fully reimbursed for all relevant additional expenditure, or in some cases opportunity costs.

The report says: Alternatively, a funding mechanism could be agreed which will allow them to decide whether or not to run battery collection schemes. One way in which this could be done would be to agree a rate per tonne collected through negotiations with LARAC, NAWDO and the local government associations. This payment would be made for all batteries collected from agreed depots.

Commenting on the trials, battery collection firm G&P chief executive Michael Green said: The trial was extremely useful. There is no single effective method of collecting batteries that allows the UK to meet its obligations. It has to be done using a combination of methods. The more containers available to people the more batteries you will collect for recycling.

There are those who will not use kerbside recycling schemes and others who will not use retail collection schemes. So you have to do both.

The technical side of the Battery Regulations started on September 26 2008 but will not be expected to come into full force until next year.

 

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