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EA asks battery compliance schemes to check producer figures

The Environment Agency is currently assessing initial Battery Compliance Scheme applications and will ask them for additional information by the end of June to make sure they have realistic producer membership figures.

Last month, eight potential BCSs applied to the EA to seek approval to run a scheme. Under the Battery Regulations, BCSs will have to collect, treat and recycle batteries on behalf of large producers. Schemes have given predictions to the EA on how many producers they think will join their potential schemes.

EA batteries project manager Bob Mead told MRW: We need to be as confident as we can that the plans [of BCSs] are not based on double counting of producers. In the battery world nobody has complete numbers of how many producers there are.

We need to eliminate as much double counting as possible and make sure that their [BCSs] figures are realistic.

He added that the BCSs will need to provide confident estimates of their membership so that their producers can meet their obligations and the BCSs can meet their financial requirements for at least the first three compliance periods.

Mead said that Government safe working figures show that there about 200 battery producers that will have to join a BCS.

He also said that some BCSs have already made pre-compliance arrangements to get producers to sign on the dotted line to say that they will join their schemes. But Mead acknowledged that you cannot put a straight jacket on anybody.  He said he would not be surprised if two or three producers have put their names down for different schemes.

The EA is now investigating applicants and they will be approved by the end of September or before that.

Mead said: That means that producers will only have a couple of weeks in the autumn to do the deed and join a BCS. The more planning they do about the schemes the better. We are advising producers to have at least one reserve scheme in the event that their chosen BCS does not get approved.

When questioned about whether the UK could meet its 2012 recycling target, Mead said: Frankly, I do not think anyone can answer that question. It is possible and not impossible. It is a very stiff target given where we are at the moment. We are at three per cent and we have to bump that up to 25 per cent. All the schemes that apply to us say that we can do it they would be fools not too.

He explained that the EA, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills were working hard to make sure the first compliance period, starting on 1 January, runs smoothly.

Defra will be running a national campaign and BCSs will have to run their own local publicity campaigns to inform the public about battery recycling.

Mead acknowledged that details of the number of portable battery reprocessors based in the UK was sketchy and that virtually all of them go abroad to be recycled. He said that people have not built battery facilities in the UK in the past because they did not see any financial benefits as demand was low. But with the recycling targets in place this could create a market for them.

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