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BRC criticises Governments strict guidelines on waste batteries

Retailers will not make the most of their reverse haulage systems because of the Governments reluctance to ease strict guidelines on waste batteries, according to the British Retail Consortium.

The BRC has responded critically to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs advisory note entitled Storage and transport of portable batteries(24 July). The note was produced to assist stakeholders, retailers and collectors in understanding what they need to do when collecting and transporting waste batteries (see MRW story). The Defra advisory note states that nickel cadmium batteries are classed as hazardous under the Hazardous Waste Regulations and all mixed waste batteries must be transported and stored appropriately.

From 1 February 2010 retailers who sell 32kg of batteries or more per year are obliged to provide take back facilities for consumers.

Retailers will have to train their drivers on handling lithium batteries and retailers will also have to receive training so that they can assess that batteries are packed correctly for transport.

BRC environment policy executive head Bob Gordon told MRW: Retailers recognise their responsibilities and are providing used battery collection facilities. But they want to maximise the environmental gains through reverse haulage. This means taking batteries away from stores in the same vehicles that deliver the goods to the stores.

But because of the Governments reluctance to ease strict guidelines used batteries are still regarded as hazardous waste. This stops retailers making the most of reverse haulage because of the need for specific safety equipment and driver training. Theres also a need to use extra vehicles and make more journeys to collect used batteries adding to costs and cancelling out much of the environmental gain.

Retailers accept the importance of safety but allowing them to use reverse haulage is the most efficient option and regulation must not prevent it.

Defra recommends to retailers that they contact one or more battery compliance schemes to discuss collection of waste portable batteries from store. The Defra advisory note states that the retailer must have had the basic dangerous goods training to ensure that they know how batteries should be packed for transport and must ensure that the person collecting is sent by a compliance scheme.

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