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Lead Acid Battery Collections Decline

6th September 2016

Emily Rice

Battery recycling target still a concern as lead acid battery recycling falls

The Environment Agency has released a summary of Portable Batteries data for the 2016 Compliance Period to date. The data released last month (up to 25 August) indicates that the amount of lead acid batteries collected which is needed to satisfy recycling targets has fallen. But if future recycling targets are to be met collections of 'other' batteries may need to rise. This includes batteries such as disposal batteries used in small appliances.

Up to 25 August 2016 7,776 tonnes of waste portable batteries was collected in the UK. The UK Collection Rate Target for 2016 is 45% of the average amount of portable batteries placed on the market by producers in 2014, 2015 and 2016 with the indicative UK obligation for 2016 likely to be around 16,414 tonnes. So to date the UK Collection Rate for 2016 is 22.4% according to the Environment Agency Data.

Portable battery definition  

The change to the portable battery definition came in to effect from 1 January 2016 and saw a requirement for a greater effort in the UK to collect and recycle lighter portable batteries in order to meet targets. Batteries which weigh over 4kg no longer can be classed as ‘portable’ when they become waste and present themselves for treatment.

Prior to this change, batteries which weighed over 10kg were classified as industrial and those under 4kg as portable batteries (if they were not considered industrial or automotive due to their characteristics). Batteries weighing between 4kg and 10kg were in a grey area and could be either portable or industrial depending on the battery’s characteristics. This meant that batteries weighing up to 10kg had been declared as portable when they presented themselves to be recycled and suggests that recycling figures could be skewed as recyclers, unsure of the original use of lead acid batteries, may declare them as portable.

DEFRA have previously indicated that 83% of the UK’s 2012 battery recycling target was met through recycling lead acid batteries when they only made up 8% of new batteries placed on the market. 

Under the new guidance, the 4kg – 10kg grey area was removed and any battery intended for non-industrial use which weighs under 4kg is now considered portable and anything over industrial.

For more information about waste batteries collection targets and our battery producer compliance scheme please click here to get in touch with the Comply Direct Batteries compliance team.