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2016 battery recycling target achieved by schemes but not the UK

Battery producers look to have met their 2016 recycling targets, however contributions from small producers appear to have caused the UK to fail to achieve the Directive 45% recycling target.

This year we have been striving to increase our collection systems and network of collection points across the UK, to meet the highest ever recycling target. The added importance of everyone achieving the 2016 recycling performance has not been missed here at Ecosurety.

We’ve been speaking with our contacts at DEFRA and as part of our industry groups discussions to look at ways to increase the collection performance, and the risks posed under the current regulations for achieving the 2016 target. The performance of the UK has been in question since the summer (see my earlier commentary on progress towards meeting 2016 targets), and the need to pull up our socks has not gone unnoticed.

No longer subsidising small producers

The current regulations do not require small producers (those companies placing less than one tonne on the market) to finance collection of batteries. These small producers represent around 200 tonnes of batteries imported each year – that’s equivalent to 2.2 million packs of 4xAA batteries every year being imported. These businesses are not burdened with the full impact of the regulations (i.e. financing the collection and recycling of waste batteries), instead, they are only required to register and report the weight of batteries imported each year.

Up to now the difference has been met by larger producers, but because the cost of recycling batteries has risen, larger producers through their schemes are only recycling enough to meet their obligation. This means they are no longer subsidising the small producers’ contribution to such an extent, they are simply covering their own obligations.

Batteries market is tightening

This shift shows the batteries market is tightening, and that costs are increasing. There is work to be done to mitigate this risk for 2017, where we could again as a country miss the target, despite as a scheme meeting our members obligations. We will continue to support DEFRA through our working groups and direct feedback, on implementation of changes to the current regulations that allow a fairer distribution of producer responsibility over smaller battery importers, without the need for large companies to subsidise their shortfalls.

In the meantime, we continue to expand our free battery collection network with new containers, new branding and increased partners to at least maintain the current levels of recycling, before further review of targets in or around 2019/2020. Around this time there may be further consideration of how we adopt the Circular Economy Package and how batteries contribute in part towards and overall 70% recycling.

To find out more about battery collections please contact our team on 0333 4330 370 or email info@ecosurety.com.


Robbie Staniforth

Innovation and policy director

Robbie is innovation and policy director at Ecosurety. Having spent years building an intimate understanding of the industry’s policies and politics, he uses this knowledge to help shape new legislation and oversees Ecosurety’s growing portfolio of cross-industry innovation projects including Podback and the Flexible Plastic Fund. He has worked closely with Defra during the most recent packaging consultations, outlining the impacts and required transitional arrangements of the UK’s new EPR system and is a member of the government’s Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP). He is also a spokesperson for the company and regularly uses his influence to communicate the importance of environmental responsibility to external stakeholders.


Written by Robbie Staniforth Published 28/02/2017 Topics Batteries

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