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Retailers power up for batteries collection start

The British Retail Consortium is confident retailers will be ready by February 1 to implement battery collection systems.

From February 1 UK retailers selling 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.

BRC head of environment Bob Gordon told MRW: Retailers have negotiated the start date to February 1 to save time on getting ready. As far as we are aware they are ready.

Last year, the BRC expressed concerns that the original January 1 2010 start date set by the Government would put huge pressure on stores because it is their busiest time of the year and is precisely the same time they are expected to cope with the huge task of reversing last years VAT cut (see MRW story).

G&P Batteries managing director Michael Green said: I do not anticipate anything dramatic for the next week as far as we are concerned. If retailers have battery collections in place then we do not anticipate sufficient quantities until a couple of weeks on. However, this is all good stuff and we are all moving in the right direction.

Battery producer compliance scheme BatteryBack managing director Peter Hunt said it will be working with retailers such as Tesco, Argos and Morrisons who will have collection systems in place by February 1.

From 1 February consumers will be able to recycle their batteries wherever they see the battery be positive sign. Some town halls, libraries or schools may set up collection points and according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs several local councils already collect batteries from kerbside and provide bins at household waste recycling centres.

Defra started a battery recycling advertising campaign earlier this week (January 25) in national newspaper and magazines. A Defra spokeswoman said that there was a strong consumer relations campaign in place as well. She also said the full onslaught of advertising will happen next week (January 28). The adverts feature a grey bin that has the words batteries not included written over.

European batteries manufacturer Varta Consumer Batteries UK recently told MRW that come February 1 there will be a general level of confusion and lack of awareness among consumers and independent retailers. 

Duracell environmental external relations manager Khush Marolia said: Clearly the February 1 will be a ramp up and this is to be expected, especially for the smaller shops. But I am sure that the Government will take this into account.

We are happy with the situation as we expect there to be a ramp up.

Marolia said the system will need a period of about three to four months to settle and that a public communications campaign was vital to inform consumers how to recycle their batteries.

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