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"Good start" for battery collections as Environment Agency publishes Q1 data

Quarter one figures for battery collection “represent a good start” to meeting the end of year targets, believes Environment Agency batteries implementation project manager Bob Mead.

The UK has committed itself to collecting 10% of batteries sold (based on 2009 figures) by the end of 2010 – around 4,474 tonnes of batteries. Today (2 June), the Environment Agency published figures showing that the UK has managed to collect 849 tonnes of batteries in the first three months of the year. In the same period, 9,898 tonnes of batteries were sold.

“Given that the distributor obligation to take-back waste portable batteries did not start until one month into the reporting quarter and that there would have then been a lag before the first collections were made, we believe the figures represent a very good start,” commented Mead. “The amount reported as collected is almost 2% of the total amount of portable batteries placed on the market in 2009.  Given that historic figures suggest that the annual rate of collection, recycling and recovery of portable batteries in the UK is about this amount, this represents a good start to achieving the targets.”

Compliance scheme BatteryBack chairman Peter Hunt also highlighted that collections of batteries have only been active for two months. He added: “We’re not concerned about the quarter one figures. We’ve seen a very good ramp up in collections in the last couple of months.

“However, what’s worrying us is that we can see it running out of steam a bit already. We have increased our collection installations to over 15,000 but we cannot keep on doing this. We’ve got to change people’s awareness regarding battery recycling. We are not getting the core 70% of the population who would do it as long as it is made easy for them.”

According to Budget Pack managing director Steve Clark the quarter one figure reflects a 72% collection rate for the quarter. He commented: “We were always expecting a reduced tonnage because it is a brand new scheme and compliance schemes are having to set up arrangements and install collection points. It will obviously be slower than the rest of the year.”

Mead said it was up to compliance schemes to deliver information campaigns to end-users of portable batteries but that these must be matched to the collection arrangements each scheme has in place so that public expectation does not increase before the scheme is able to deliver. Commenting on the UK’s ability to meet the 2012 target of 25% battery collection Mead said: “Moving from the UK’s historic rate of collection and recycling (said to be about 2-3%) to the 25% target will require major effort from all concerned and it is our job to make sure that that effort is put in.”

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