British households are hoarding an estimated 178 million batteries, according to research by compliance scheme Ecosurety and environmental charity Hubbub.
A survey of 3,055 UK adults conducted by Censuswide during August found that six in 10 people kept unwanted batteries, representing the 178 million figure, and fewer than half (47%) realised that batteries are made of valuable heavy metals which can be reused. These include lead, mercury, cadmium, zinc, manganese and lithium.
Half of the survey respondents (52%) admitted throwing batteries away in the regular waste stream even though their toxic contents mean that they can be hazardous if not disposed of properly.
The results were announced at the start of a ’Bring Back Heavy Metal’ campaign to encourage people to drop off unwanted batteries at their nearest collection point.
Hubbub and Ecosurety have recruited retailers including Asda, B&Q, Currys PC World, The Entertainer, Marks & Spencer and Morrisons to host collection points, making it easier for the public to recycle batteries as part of the campaign.
Manufacturer GP Batteries and compliance scheme BatteryBack are also supporting the campaign.
James Piper, Ecosurety managing director, said: “In 2016, only 44% of the UK’s used batteries were collected for recycling. That’s 380 tonnes short of the collection target, yet this research shows that there is more than 10 times the amount of the shortfall stashed away in people’s homes.
“We will soon have the facility to recycle batteries in the UK for the first time, and we hope that people will be inspired by this campaign to empty their drawers, keep their used batteries out of the regular waste bin and drop them off at a recycling point instead.”
Trewin Restorick, chief executive and co-founder of Hubbub, said: “All supermarkets and other major battery retailers are obliged to have battery recycling points for customers, but these can often be hard to find. Four in 10 people said they would like better visibility of recycling points.”
More information on the ’Bring Back Heavy Metal’ campaign.