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Government miscalculates battery figures

The Government has underestimated how many tonnes of portable batteries the UK places on the market annually, new figures show.

Last year, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published an impact assessment review on batteries.

It estimated that the UK sells 30,000 tonnes of portable batteries each year of which approximately 3% are sent for recycling.

The Environment Agency has recently published 2009 battery market data which shows that the UK actually places about 45,000 tonnes of portable batteries on the market annually.

This will mean that battery compliance schemes will have more batteries to collect to meet the UKs 2010 interim battery collection target. The UK has to collect at least 10% of waste portable batteries by 2010 which are based on battery sales figures for 2009.

Each scheme would have had to collect about 3,000 tonnes of waste portable batteries each year on the Governments original estimates. However, this has now changed to 4,474 tonnes each year.

The new data means that the UK is sending more batteries to landfill than originally thought and possibly collecting 2.2% of batteries for recycling.

EA implementation project manager Bob Mead told MRW: The figures are a bit higher than we expected. We knew there was a degree of uncertainty in the original estimate. This shows that more batteries were going to landfill than we presumed. Schemes have still got to meet the targets.

The EA is urging schemes to review their collection arrangements in light of the data change.

Mead said that BCSs should have had the opportunity to know what batteries their members put on the market. Schemes will need to review their operational plans, and if necessary, change them to reflect the new data on batteries put on the market. Schemes will also have to report their first quarters collection data figures by the end of April.

The UK has to collect at least 25% of waste portable batteries by 2012, increasing to 45% by 2016.

Battery compliance scheme ERP UK general manager Scott Butler said: We note with interest the significant variance in the sales figures for the regulations. While it doesnt change the plans for ERP battery compliance scheme, we know that the targets for collecting batteries in the UK will bring up exciting challenges.

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