2019 Q3 battery collection figures dampen the mood

Latest figures show that strong Q4 collections are required to hit or exceed the annual target

Whilst it remains likely that we’ll see a final flourish in Q4, the better-than-last-year narrative has evaporated, leaving the year’s results hanging in the balance over the three remaining months.

With 12,012 tonnes of waste batteries reported as collected by Q3 2019, we can calculate that the UK has achieved around 71% of the annual target – a shortfall which will need to be counter-balanced in the near future.

2019’s figures do not differ drastically from the nine preceding years (especially the past four), of which the government’s collection target has remained stagnant.

Earlier in the year, the Environment Agency announced figures explaining that it had exceeded its 2018 battery collection target. In short, this was due to steady figures, and the fixing of an oversight that allowed small producers who were free agents (reporting directly to the EA and not working in conjunction with a battery compliance scheme) to contribute to the placed on the market figures, but not collections. The target itself has not been increased, and as the regulation reaches its 10th birthday, the question is ‘what next?’.

The battery collection targets since 2010

Four ways to revitalise the battery collection industry

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) has risen high on the sustainability agenda over the past 18 months, with packaging setting the pace and WEEE only a few steps behind. The direction of the packaging industry has broadly been set and producers are best-preparing themselves to face these changes. The issue of recycling batteries is much lower in public profile, and therefore, well down the pecking order in terms of political priorities.

The world of technology, which battery regulations govern, changes every year. Whilst adjusting the legislative landscape as frequently would be a nightmare, there are four key issues that need to be addressed. Legislators must work out how to:

  • Adjust the reporting categories (currently three; Lead Acid, Nickel Cadmium and Other)  to accurately reflect the diverse mix of batteries placed onto the market to give a greater granularity of information to the regulators
  • Ensure a more direct link between the types of batteries placed onto the market and recycled
  • Increase consumer awareness
  • Even up the playing field to ensure producers all follow the same guidance when reporting their  figures

The final furlong?

As the UK motions itself towards the end of the year, time will tell whether there will be a cliff-hanger. What we do know is that much effort is needed to improve battery collections.

Last week Ecosurety announced the £1m Ecosurety Exploration Fund for projects that can reduce the environmental impact of packaging, batteries and WEEE. We hope to see projects being submitted that can help the UK improve the collection and recycling of batteries. If you have an idea, please make sure you apply for funding to help make it happen!


Dan Boyle

Key account manager

Dan joined our client services team in early 2017 and as key account manager now provides high levels of support to our compliance scheme members. His previous experience includes working for Apple as a technical expert and for IT advisory firm Gartner – it goes without saying that Dan has a love of all things tech!

Written by Dan Boyle Published 09/12/2019 Topics Batteries
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