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Portable Battery Definition Consultation

9th February 2015

Melanie Harper

Long-awaited proposals to update the portable battery definition were published by Defra on 26 January 2015 providing further guidance for producers.

Portable Battery definition

Back in December 2013 Defra was forced to postpone the publication of guidance for the definition of portable batteries after errors were found in the data used to inform the consultation. The current portable battery definition is that any battery which is sealed, can be hand-carried without difficulty and is neither for automotive nor industrial purposes.

The proposal aims to offer a ‘clearer framework’ and will state a clear weight limit to help producers to determine whether a battery should be classed as ‘portable’.

The changes to the portable battery definition and guidance, if approved, will come into effect from 1 January 2016 and will likely mean that the amount of non-lead batteries recycled to meet the EU recycling target will need to increase.


A consultation has been launched as a result of some confusion among battery recyclers regarding the portable battery definition meaning that many lead acid batteries are currently incorrectly being reported as portable batteries. This has resulted in a significant increase in the amount of lead acid batteries that are being used to satisfy recycling targets in comparison to the volume of lead acid batteries producers place on the market.

In 2013, although lead acid batteries only accounted for approximately 7% of batteries placed onto the UK market, around 10,500 tonnes of lead acid batteries (more than 88% of the total placed on the market) were collected. The consultation documents also propose a clearer portable battery definition as well as the introduction of a new 4kg weight limit on portable batteries.

This means that anything over 4kg will not be classed as a portable battery and should not be used to meet the recycling target for portable batteries which currently requires 45% of portable batteries to be collected for recycling by the end of 2016. This amendment to the guidance aims to ensure that a standardised criteria and portable battery definition is applied among both producers and treatment operators.

All responses to this consultation should be sent by email to packaging@defra.gsi.gov.uk, or by post to Producer Responsibility, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Area 2B Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR by the 22nd February 2015. Defra have advised to ensure that any email responses are clearly marked ‘Portable Batteries Consultation Responses’.

For more information regarding the changes to the portable battery definition or your Batteries obligation, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Batteries compliance team.