Battery collection data for the first half of the year indicates that the UK is on course to hit the required target of 45%.
The collection rate is calculated from the weight of waste portable batteries for which compliance schemes supply battery evidence notes in 2016.
The average annual amount of portable batteries placed on the market by compliance scheme members and small producers during the past three years is 36,475 tonnes. The current 45% target produces an obligation for 2016 of 16,414 tonnes.
The latest Environment Agency data from Q1 and Q2 indicates:
- Portable batteries placed on the UK Market in this year: 16,501 tonnes
- Portable batteries delivered for treatment in the UK this year: 8,059 tonnes
- Portable batteries evidence notes accepted this year: 8,171 tonnes
The information means the UK’s collection rate for the first half of the year is 22.4%.
Compliance schemes have until 31 May 2017 to obtain evidence to meet their members’ obligations for the 2016 compliance period.
The portable battery data for the second quarter of 2016 does not show the whole picture. When it comes to UK battery collections and compliance there is going to be a shortage of batteries for recycling in the future if battery recycling habits do not change. However, it should not be forgotten that prevention is better than cure, after all, prevention is at the top of the waste hierarchy. If consumers purchase the right battery technology in the first place, this will help reduce the quantity of batteries used and waste produced. This also makes sense financially, although it is not always easy for the consumer to make the right choice with the large number of descriptions that adorn the battery aisle. “Super heavy duty” may sound ideal but these batteries may not be as good as alkaline in high drain devices such as toys and cameras. Back to recycling. The UK battery obligation is expected to be around 17,000 tonnes annually. Based on the EA figures for 2016 to date, the amount of lead acid based evidence looks like it will drop by about 28% to around 7,700 tonnes. This reduction is due to the change to the threshold for hand carriable to 4Kg, implemented on 1 January 2016. At present, this shortfall can be satisfied with the stocks of batteries that have been built up over the last few years. However, these stocks won’t last for ever and more batteries will need to be collected for recycling, removing them from the general waste stream. Without concerted industry efforts to educate and encourage change, it is highly unlikely the UK will meet its battery recycling obligations.
David Reynolds, group technical director, Wastecare www.BatteryBack.org