FEBRUARY 2008

United Kingdom plans to keep batteries from landfills

Increasing the level of recycling and reducing some of the 700 million batteries that go into landfills annually are at the heart of plans published in December 2007.

The proposals, which were set out in a Government consultation, looked at the best way to improve the environmental performance of new batteries and ensure collection, treatment and recycling of waste batteries. They apply to batteries of all shapes, volumes, weights, types and uses, and will help the UK implement the EU’s Batteries and Accumulators Directive.

The proposals seek to find methods for achieving the following targets and objectives:

  • Collection targets for waste household batteries of 25% of sales by 2012, rising to 45% by 2016;
  • Prohibition on household batteries with high levels of cadmium (with some exceptions for emergency lighting, alarm systems, medical equipment and cordless power tools) and continued restrictions on use of mercury;
  • Clearer labeling with capacity, chemical symbol and “wheelie bin” collection symbols;
  • Various producer responsibilities, including a ban on disposal of industrial and automotive batteries in landfills or by incineration (in effect, a 100% recycling target);
  • Responsibility for producers of appliances to ensure batteries can be readily removed for easy collection, treatment and recycling; and,
  • Responsibility for retailers to take back waste household batteries at no charge to consumers.