Before implementation of the Batteries Directive in the UK, less than 3% of portable batteries placed on the market were collected and recycled. WasteCare is now a major contributor to the UK meeting its 45% battery collection and recycling target.
In 2009, the company created a design for battery containers to make them easily recognisable, reduce manual handling and prevent overfilling. It now has more than 35,000 battery collection points and is the largest collector of portable batteries. It also owns battery compliance scheme BatteryBack
To complement these, it now operates the first operational alkaline battery recycling plant in the UK, which started up last year near Halifax.
JUDGES’ COMMENT: “This is genuinely innovative, a UK first. They are providing a comprehensive service with a new facility that the UK has needed for a long time.”
Alkaline batteries make up 85% of mixed portable batteries, and the delivery of WasteCare’s recycling plant was only achieved with buy-in from the entire supply chain. Producers were engaged early in the process to support educational programmes in schools to help drive up recycling levels, while retailers were engaged and supported with front-of-house recycling bins.
WasteCare now collects around 3,000 tonnes a year of portable batteries. This is more than half of the total of mixed portable batteries collected in the UK and it continues to grow. Due to the company’s national collection model, more than 85% of batteries are collected with other wastes, reducing the associated carbon footprint.
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Before the battery recycling plant was developed, all of the alkaline batteries it treated would have been transported to northern Europe. The new plant means that 50% of the mass of the batteries are currently recycled in the UK with only the ‘black mass’ being transported for recovery to Europe.
The next stage of development for the project will be to ensure the black mass is also recycled in the UK.
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