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Shoppers pay the price for battery regulations

Consumers will have to pay more for their batteries because of the battery regulations, according to an industry expert.

Recycling firm WasteCare chief executive Peter Hunt told MRW that manufacturers will have to increase the price of batteries to cover their collection and competitive costs.

His comments come after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published an advisory note entitled Storage and transport of portable batteries, last month (see MRW story). The note was produced to assist stakeholders, retailers and collectors in understanding what they need to do when collection and transporting waste batteries.

From 1 February 2010 retailers who sell 32kg of batteries or more per year are obliged to provide take-back facilities for consumers. The Department for Transport has introduced rules for the transport of road of up to 333kgs of mixed waste batteries. Retailers will not be allowed to carry more than 333kg of waste batteries in their vans which take the waste batteries to recycling facilities. If they wish to carry more than 333kg then they will have to comply with the full Dangerous Goods legislation (ADR).

Hunt said: It is bureaucracy over commonsense. If a vehicle cannot collect more than 333kg or mixed batteries without full ADR then back-hauling for large retailers are out of the question and the cost for dedicated battery collectors will soar, not to mention the environmental impact of vans running around with under a third of a tonne of batteries. In fact, if this rule is upheld it will add over £2.5 million to the annual cost of collecting batteries within the UK. Not to mention unnecessarily pumping an additional 1,750 tonnes of extra carbon into the atmosphere.

Hunt added that the battery regulations were difficult and confusing to comply with and had been turned into a regulatory minefield.

He said: Unlike the rest of Europe, in Britain we have four separate versions of the same regulations. Retailers, collectors and recyclers of batteries are faced with different interpretations of the regulations in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. And the confusion doesnt end there.

He added that the best storage and handling practices for batteries had still not been decided: The Health and Safety Executive has only just announced that the Buxton H&S Laboratories are soon to begin research into the best storage and handling methods for batteries. The problem is that we do not know when they will give us the results and it will certainly not be before next February.

Last month (see MRW story), British Retail Consortium environment policy executive head Bob Gordon told MRW that because of the Governments reluctance to ease strict guidelines used batteries are still regarded as hazardous waste. He said that this stops retailers making the most of reverse haulage because of the need for specific safety equipment and driver training. As a consequence, he argued that there was a need to use extra vehicles and make more journeys to collect used batteries, adding to costs and cancelling out much of the environmental gain.



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