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Everything you need to know about the waste batteries regulations

1st February 2016

Melanie Harper

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations obligates producers and distributors of most electronic or electrical items that require a plug or a battery to function.

Due to this, it is a common misconception that waste batteries are covered by the WEEE Regulations, however, there is a separate set of regulations for waste batteries and if you do place products on the UK market that include batteries, they need to be reported separately under the waste batteries regulations.

The waste batteries regulations obligate producers and distributors of portable batteries, automotive batteries and industrial batteries.

The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009

The Waste Battery and Accumulator Regulations 2009 came into force in May 2009 and implemented the provisions made for waste batteries in the EU Directive 2006/66/EC.

These Regulations set out requirements for waste battery collection, treatment, recycling and disposal for all battery types and affect producers, battery distributors (retailers), waste battery collectors, recyclers and exporters.

These Regulations supplement the Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008, which outline a range of product design requirements, including restrictions on the use of mercury and cadmium in new batteries, battery labelling requirements and standards for the design of new appliances to be so that batteries can be easily removed.

This legislation aims to improve the environmental performance of batteries and accumulators and all those involved in their life cycle.

Am I obligated?

You can be obligated under the Waste Batteries Regulations if you are either a producer or distributor of batteries.

Producers

You will be obligated as a producer under this legislation if your business first places batteries onto the UK market; this includes batteries contained within products such as in a laptop or mobile phone etc. Therefore if you import electrical and electronic products containing batteries into the UK it is likely you will have an obligation under these regulations.  

Your company must also have a physical presence in the UK, such as a UK office, trading arm, or Post Office box to be considered a producer.

The types of batteries covered are automotive batteries, industrial batteries and portable batteries. Your company is not considered the producer of batteries if you import them for your own use.

Companies that have bought batteries from a UK supplier are not considered to be a producer.

Distributors

A distributor is a company that supplies batteries or products containing batteries, on a professional basis to an end user. This includes UK sourced batteries.

Distributors who sell more than 32 kilograms a year of portable batteries to end users have a distributor obligation. This means you must accept waste portable batteries from end users without charge.

If the batteries are sold within products (eg. a laptop battery) then you would not have this obligation unless you also sold portable batteries separately above the threshold weight.

It is possible that you are both a producer and a distributor and if this is the case, you will need to comply with the obligations for both categories

Different types of batteries

What is a portable battery?

A portable battery is one which sealed, weighs less than 4kg and has not been designed for any specific industrial or professional use or used to start a vehicle. There are two different types of portable batteries registration. A large producer intends to place over 1 tonne of portable batteries on the UK market in a year, a small producer below 1 tonne.

I think I am obligated - what do I need to do?

If you place 1 tonne or more (large producer) of portable batteries on the market, you must pay for the collection, treatment or recycling of waste portable batteries. You do this by joining a compliance scheme like Comply Direct.

If you place less than 1 tonne (small producer) of portable batteries on the market a year then you will need to register direct with the environmental regulator of the UK country where your registered office is. This could be the Environment Agency (EA), Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) or Natural Resources Wales.

What is an automotive battery?

An automotive battery is one intended to be used as power during automotive ignition, start or lighting. You would have an obligation if you place automotive batteries on the UK market.

I think I am obligated - what do I need to do?

If you are a producer of automotive batteries, you must register with the BIS to ensure compliance. You can do this by registering directly or alternatively Comply Direct have can provide a registration service on your behalf. 

If you are also a large producer of portable batteries, you can ensure compliance by joining a compliance scheme like Comply Direct.

Producers of automotive batteries have a duty to collect waste automotive batteries for free and within a reasonable time scale from the final holder of the battery. They must also inform final holders of how they can request the collection of waste automotive batteries.

What is an industrial battery?

An industrial battery is one not intended to be used for power during vehicle ignition (automotive). It may be sealed or unsealed and could be a battery designed for a specific use professionally or industrially. A sealed battery not designed for a specific purpose or used during vehicle ignition would be declared as portable if it weighed less than 4kg. if it weighed more than 4kg it would be considered industrial. If you need any assistance in classifying your batteries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

I think I am obligated - what do I need to do?

If you are a producer of industrial batteries, you must register with the BIS to ensure compliance. This is done by registering directly, however Comply Direct offer a solution to handle your registration on your behalf. 

If you are also a large producer of portable batteries, you can ensure compliance by joining a compliance scheme like Comply Direct.

Producers of industrial batteries have a duty to:

  • take back waste industrial batteries free of charge from the end user
  • inform end users of how they can return waste industrial batteries

Battery recycling

It is important that batteries are disposed of correctly and recycled where possible. If you have small amounts of batteries, you can take them to your local recycling centre, but you must check first that they have the facilities to treat or recycle the batteries correctly.

Shops that sell more than 32kg of batteries are now required to provide battery recycling collection facilities in-store meaning you can also dispose of portable batteries here.

I don’t think I’m obligated, but my business has waste batteries

If you generate waste batteries within your business but you are not obligated under the Waste Batteries Regulations, you can request a free battery bin for your business.

Comply Direct have a partnership with BatteryBack who provide a range of battery cans with varying specifications to suit the needs of many types of business. Get in touch today to request your battery bin. We can also free arrange collections of the bin and replacement bins when full.

If you need any further information about the Waste Batteries Regulations or would like to chat to one of our experts, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.

Are you obligated for Batteries Compliance?

If you manufacture, import, rebrand or sell Batteries direct to end users in the UK from overseas, then it is likely that you will be obligated for Batteries Compliance. Click here to find out more and take our simple Batteries Compliance assessment.

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