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Mixed picture from battery and WEEE collection data

Waste battery collection rates hit almost 32% by the third quarter of 2018 against a target for the year of 45%.

Figures from the National Packaging Waste Database showed the number of portable batteries placed on the UK market in 2018 to date by compliance scheme members amounted to 25,200 tonnes. The total for scheme members and small producers is projected at 37,500 tonnes.

Robbie Staniforth, policy manager at recycling compliance scheme Ecosurety, said: “We are heartened to see the sharp increase in mixed household batteries reported in Q3. This last period has seen one of the highest levels of collection since the regulations began eight years ago.”

He said the increase had coincided with the second year of the ‘Bring back heavy metal’ campaign run by Ecosurety and environmental charity Hubbub to encourage the public to bring batteries to retailers’ recycling points.

“Although the UK is currently a little behind the target, we anticipate another period of high collection in Q4,” Staniforth added.

He was less happy with the Environment Agency’s latest figures for collections of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), where he said it was likely the industry was running slightly behind targets in the third quarter, with 70% of the annual target so far accounted for.

Staniforth said: “This is concerning – it suggests producers may again be forced to use the compliance fee in order to hit their targets.

“However, it remains to be seen whether these low figures are caused by issues of material supply or simply a failure to report.

“If the latter, then the industry may need to consider ways to simplify the system to encourage more material to be reported through the regulatory mechanism. The need for ‘substantiated estimates’ to hit targets is sub-optimal.”

The EA figures showed 126,000 tonnes of household WEEE collected in Q3, with ‘large household appliances’ being the largest single category at 40,100 tonnes followed by ’cooling appliance containing refrigerants’ at 36,800 tonnes.

During the first nine months of 2018, the total household WEEE collected was 378,200 tonnes.

There were also 2,100 tonnes of non-household WEEE collected in Q3, taking the total so far for 2018 to 6,000 tonnes.

This article was amended on 4 December to correct the tonnage figures.

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