Obligations for producers of portable and automotive and industrial batteries will differ, according to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.
New legislation that is designed to ensure that all waste industrial and automotive batteries are recycled came into effect on 1 January.
Producers of industrial and automotive batteries are now required to arrange the collection, treatment and recycling of these batteries, free of charge, if requested by business end-users and final holders. Whereas, producers of portable batteries will be required to finance the net cost of collection, treatment and recycling of a quantified proportion of batteries placed on the market. Producers of portable batteries are required to join an approved battery compliance scheme, whereas, producers of industrial and automotive batteries are not.
A BIS spokesman told MRW: There are a number of reasons why we have adopted a different approach for industrial and automotive batteries. First and foremost, industrial and automotive batteries have traditionally experienced a far higher recycling rate than portable batteries. On that basis, we didnt see the need to disrupt the successful commercial operations that have helped deliver these good recycling rates.
Under the new regulations, a producer responsibility safety net now exists, which will protect business end-users of industrial batteries, and certain final holders of automotive batteries, in the event of a challenging economic market for recycling.
Battery recycling firm G&P Batteries managing director Michael Green said that before the regulations came into place the vast majority of industrial and automotive batteries were being collected and recycled and the regulations will allow that high level of collection to continue. He also said that there was a small potential for producers to get confused in differentiating between industrial and portable batteries.
Green added: As a rule of thumb if you can buy a battery from a shop and use it in a variety of equipment it is a portable battery. If it is too big to carry and needs to be fitted by an engineer it is likely to be industrial this is not a strict definition.
From 1 February UK retailers selling portable batteries will have a legal obligation to collect waste batteries if they sell over 32 kg per year (equivalent of one four-pack of AA batteries a day).
Consumers will be able to return their waste batteries to shops selling similar batteries, even if they do not buy anything there.
Battery manufacturer Varta said that it was concerned that there will be a general lack of confusion among consumers and independent retailers over the Battery Regulations that start on 1 February.
Varta divisional vice president Vince Armitage said that there were a huge number of retailers who were still not aware of the regulations. He also said that he feared that a number of independent retailers may stop selling batteries in order to avoid the complexities of the regulations (see MRW story).