Industry figures have welcomed Defra’s decision to change the definition of ‘portable’ batteries to include only those weighing less than 4kg.
Currently, batteries weighing between 4 and 10kg can be identified as either ‘portable’ or ‘industrial’ depending on their characteristics.
The department announced in an update on the National Packaging Waste Database that the new definition has removed this grey area. Any battery over 4kg will be classified as ‘industrial’ from January 2016.
It stated: “This change only applies to the interpretation of hand-carriability. A battery under 4kg may still be industrial if it is designed exclusively for industrial use.”
This follows a consultation to amend the Government Guidance on the Waste Batteries Regulations 2009, which ran from 26 January until 22 February this year.
Recycling firm G&P Batteries’ managing director Greg Clementson (left) said the definition could help to level the balance between lead-acid, which are highly recycled, and other batteries, which could lead to investment in a “commercially viable battery recycling facility in the UK”.
Only portable batteries have collection targets, and their producers must join compliance schemes that are responsible for achieving members’ obligations. Defra set the 2013 collection level at 30% and will increase it to 45% by 2016.
Figures on portable battery collection from December last year indicated that the sector was on track to reach the 35% target for 2014, with the amount of lead-acid batteries declining.
Robbie Staniforth (right), compliance firm Ecosurety’s product manager for batteries, said the news was a positive step and should not harm the UK’s ability to hit its 2016 target.
“The exact same amount of lead-acid battery recycling will continue to occur but less will be able to be used as evidence of portable recycling,” he said.
“More household batteries will now be sought by collectors and recyclers to ensure that the target of 45% in 2016 is met.
“An increase in public engagement to ensure that household batteries are placed into recycling containers is certainly required.”
A Defra spokesperson said: “This revised guidance will incentivise investment in new recycling facilities and help the UK to meet its recycling targets.”
In November 2013, Defra delayed publication of guidance introducing a 3kg weight threshold for portable batteries after a data error in its original consultation from August 2013.