The Environment Agency have revealed that the UK is close to meeting its EU Batteries Directive recycling target of 30% for 2013, although industry concerns persist about the disproportionate chemical make-up of the batteries collected. Data published 28 February 2014 indicates that 28.89% of the total portable batteries placed on the UK market in 2013 figure have been collected for recycling to date and Waste Batteries Compliance Schemes have until 31 May 2014 to gather any remaining battery recycling evidence in order for UK batteries obligated producers to meet the 2013 recycling target.
The Q4 2014 data shows that 12,143 tonnes of waste batteries have been collected over the obligated tonnage of 10,961 for the same period and 10,557 tonnes of waste batteries recycling evidence notes have been collected to date. The EU Batteries Directive member state recycling target increased in 2013 to 30% from 25% in 2012.
The overall collection rate for 2012 was 28.34%, up from 18.03% in 2011, indicating a steady increase for UK waste battery collection and recycling since the EU Batteries Directive was introduced. Despite the UK being on target to meet the 2013 waste batteries recycling target, sources from within the industry have indicated that the disparity over lead acid batteries being placed on the market and battery collections being used to meet the 2013 target persists.
The data supports insider battery recycling industry anxieties over proportionally high quantities of portable lead acid batteries included in the collection figures. In 2013, 10,485 tonnes of lead acid batteries were collected for recycling despite only 2,193 tonnes of lead acid batteries being placed on the market in 2012. Nickel cadmium and other compound batteries make up the vast majority of batteries placed on the market yet lead acid batteries are the most widely collected chemistry type – a worrying disproportionality for recyclers and batteries compliance schemes who fear a possible future backlash.
David Reynolds, General Manager for Batteries producer compliance scheme BatteryBack commented: "Unfortunately, the 2013 battery figures are no surprise to BatteryBack as the amended guidance that will stop some of the disparity for lead acid batteries has been delayed until at least summer of 2014. BatteryBack is keen for this issue to be resolved and it is assisting Defra and the Environment Agency to bring about a speedy resolution."
Despite industry concerns, Q4 of 2013 saw an increase in collections of nickel cadmium (NiCd) and other compound batteries with 70 tonnes of NiCd and 403 tonnes of other collected – an over 100 tonne increase on Q3 2013. A possible backlash of the disproportionate collection figures could be that the UK is not prepared to meet future waste batteries collection targets unless collections of NiCd and other compound batteries collections show signs of significantly increase.
The government is currently consulting on guidance for the definition of ‘portable’ waste batteries with an eye on reducing the number of waste lead acid batteries which are collected and contribute towards meeting the UK waste batteries recycling target.
For more information about waste batteries collection targets and battery producer compliance please click here to get in touch with the Comply Direct Batteries compliance team.