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ecosurety appears to be bucking the trend when it comes to the UK’s efforts to meet waste portable battery recycling targets.

Although recently released Environment Agency figures on a summary of portable batteries data for 2014 Q1 show that the UK appears to be meeting its statutory EU battery recycling target, the figures also show that this is with a disproportionate volume of lead acid batteries being collected and recycled. However, ecosurety's collection figures show an opposite trend to other Battery Compliance Schemes.

Some industry sources have claimed that the UK was ‘going backwards’ in its progress toward meeting the target (35% in 2014), as the collection rate for lead acid batteries was far higher than the overall proportion of new batteries being placed onto the market; with the volume of nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd) and ‘other’ batteries, which make up a vast majority of new batteries placed on the market seeing a decline.

Lead-acid batteries are collected due to the value of recycled lead, whilst nickel-cadmium batteries have a well-developed collection system in place. This results in an opinion that collection strategies could avoid the collection for recycling of portable ‘other’ batteries, possibly exploiting a loophole.

Collection data for the 2013 Compliance Period, released by the Environment Agency, for all Battery Compliance Schemes show that ecosurety have collected for recycling a higher percentage of portable ‘other’ batteries than any other scheme. See table below.

Table 1. Waste portable batteries collected by each BCS in 2013

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ecosurety collected, for recycling, the vast majority (46%) of portable ‘other’ batteries in the UK in 2013, double that of the next closest scheme. 33,625 tonnes of portable ‘other’ batteries were placed on the market in 2013, 91% of the total, and despite not having the majority share of ‘other’ placed on the market (6,228.507 tonnes), ecosurety have far outperformed those schemes whose members do actually make up the main bulk.

This is important as not only does the Batteries Directive aim at avoiding the final disposal and enhancing the collection of waste batteries and accumulators (portable, industrial and automotive), it also specifies recycling efficiency levels focusing on the quality of the recycling process. This relates for the most part to the metals contained in batteries. Mercury, lead and cadmium are by far the most problematic substances in the battery waste stream, highlighted by their classification as hazardous waste. However, other metals commonly used in batteries, such as zinc, copper, manganese, lithium and nickel, may also constitute environmental hazards.

These figures clearly show that ecosurety continue to operate efficiently and promote improvements in environmental performance of batteries, through their life-cycle, and also contribute to a high level of environmental protection.

We could take the easy options to meet regulatory requirements and simply collect majority lead-acid and nickel cadmium for recycling, but it is important that our members, who hold similar environmental ethos’ know that we are fulfilling their obligations within the spirit of the regulations.


Colin Porter

Compliance technical specialist

Colin joined in October 2011 as a compliance technical specialist. He's involved in operational planning for all regulations, helping his packaging regs members with their legal obligations and identifying prospective new members with obligations under the regulations.


Written by
Colin Porter
Published
20/08/2014
Topics
Batteries, Compliance

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