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6th March 2017
G & P Batteries condemns portable battery recycling shambles
Waste batteries collection company G & P Batteries has called for an investigation into what it calls ‘a portable battery recycling shambles’ after 2016 final quarter figures have yet again confirmed a disproportionate over-reliance on portable lead acid batteries to meet the UK’s mandatory collection targets.
Despite changes in guidance, which reduces the weight threshold of portable lead acid batteries from a maximum of 10kgs to 4kgs, the figures which suggest that the UK has hit its 45% target at the end of 2016 are heavily over-reliant on portable lead acid battery collections.
Latest figures issued by the Environment Agency on NPWD (National Packaging Waste Database) show that 38,725 tonnes of portable batteries were placed on the market during 2016, of which 1936 tonnes were portable lead acid batteries. Of the 17,232 tonnes of portable batteries received by ABTOs (Approved Battery Treatment Operators) and ABEs (Approved Battery Exporters) from the Battery Compliance Schemes, 8,745 (more than 50%) of these were lead acid batteries. This equates to a collection rate of 451% for the year, demonstrating a continued and disproportionate over-reliance on lead acid batteries for providing ‘evidence’ of the collection of portable batteries for recycling. A total of 36,788 of other battery chemistries were placed on the market during 2016, with 8486 (23%) collected.
“Despite the change in guidance there has been no reduction in the proportion of portable lead acid battery evidence, and I can see no rational explanation as to why this situation perpetuates, unless there is a massive under-reporting of material going on to the market or a similar over-reporting of material coming off the market, which implies that either battery manufacturers or the ABTOs and the waste industry misunderstands this legislation,” said G & P’s Managing Director Greg Clementson.
The high number of lead acid batteries being collected creates a false impression of the UK’s portable battery recycling track record. Before the legislation was enacted, the UK already recycled 99% of its lead acid batteries and only 3% of other chemistries. The legislation was designed to encourage greater recycling of all battery types and whilst collection rates for other chemistries have improved, the Environment Agency figures clearly demonstrate a continued over-reliance in the UK on lead acid portable battery evidence for meeting the mandatory 45% target, something not seen in other European countries where the regulations apply. That suggests that the UK is actually underperforming when it comes to the other battery chemistries.
“This situation is contrary to the aim and spirit of the legislation and cannot be sustainable in the long term. We really need an investigation into why lead acid batteries are dominating these collection rates and to look more closely into exactly how many batteries of other chemistries from the UK are being recycled.” he added.