ecosurety recently attended the Battery Stakeholder Group meeting, hosted and chaired by Defra (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs).
The purpose of the meeting is to represent the interests of our members in relation to upcoming legislation and on-going operations, with Mark Sayers and myself in attendance from ecosurety. Following a significant change in guidance earlier this year it was great to get an update on how the UK is progressing towards the EU target of 45% collection for 2016. Here is a summary of the key points from the meeting.
Circular economy negotiations hold key to future targets
Over the last six years we have always known the future collection targets for battery recycling. However, 2017 is the first year that a target has not been specified in either the UK regulations or the EU directive. Feedback during the meeting was that the target will remain at 45% until further notice. This timescale is dependent on the outcome of negotiations on the Circular Economy Package. Essentially the target for EU-wide recycling of batteries is wrapped up in a much wider discussion about targets across all materials.
Ministers decide against “netting off” exports
Unfortunately, due to the way legislation is written, producers in the UK are unable to discount any batteries that are exported from their reporting figures. The complexity lies around the definition of “placed onto the market”. Essentially, if batteries could be sold in the UK, because they are made available for UK customers to buy, they must be declared. Potentially hundreds of tonnes of batteries are being sold on to another country, yet still contribute towards UK obligations.
This issue was addressed in the WEEE regulations following feedback from a working group we were involved in. However, ministers have not been suitably convinced in order to make a change for batteries. Not only are these batteries not available to recycle in the UK, thus making the targets more difficult to achieve, they could also contribute towards a recycling obligation in the destination country (effectively being counted twice). We will be consulting with our members and other schemes in order to put forward feedback to government later this year.
Progress towards 2016 targets
The Q1 recycling figures show that the UK is still on track to meet the 2016 target. However, recycling has been comparatively slower when compared with Q1 in previous years. It was good to hear that there has been a shift towards the recycling of mixed batteries, with an especially high volume of nickel cadmium batteries being recycled.
It looks as though the 2016 targets are achievable, but it was clear to all at the meeting that greater consumer awareness is required. Collection containers, logistics systems and reprocessing facilities (albeit in mainland Europe) are all in place, but a focus on driving UK citizens to use them is needed in order to increase the overall recycling rate.
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Head of policy
Having gained a wealth of experience in regulatory affairs, waste issues and secondary commodity market analysis, Robbie uses his skills internally as an operational board member and externally to influence legislation change as head of policy. He is responsible for liaising with government, regulators and industry organisations to articulate complex views and interests and to provide high-level policy expertise, industry insight and market analysis to our members.
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