The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced that it will now consult on improvements to batteries regulations in 2023.
The environment minister Rebecca Pow announced the delay on 10 November, after the much-anticipated consultation was expected to take place towards the end of 2022.
Key focus areas
It is expected that the key areas of focus for the consultation will cover significant changes in industrial and automotive batteries, issues concerning portable batteries, and EU batteries regulation.
As was previously suggested by the Department, the consultation would consider proposals to place electric vehicle (EV) batteries and industrial batteries into separate categories. It would also look at individual producer responsibility obligations for EV batteries and explore a collective approach for industrial and automative batteries.
It is anticipated that the Department will announce short-term and medium-term measures to address collection targets for portable batteries, with aim of tackling the issues around the levels of lead acid batteries contributing towards meeting the collection target for portable batteries.
The consultation will also address the EU batteries regulation which contains more granular categorisation and specifies minimum recycled content in new batteries and minimum performance and durability criteria, among other things. The regulation will directly affect Northern Ireland under the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the extent to which the rest of the UK will choose to adopt similar requirements.
Urgent change needed
Commenting on the delayed consultation, Ecosurety Innovation and Policy Director Robbie Staniforth, said: “The delay is extremely frustrating. Change is urgently needed to increase the number of batteries recycled in the UK, particularly portable lithium-ion. However, given the magnitude of packaging producer responsibility changes taking place, the delay is understandable.
"Defra’s engagement with us over the past few weeks has been very good. We hope they use this next period to formulate a comprehensive suite of changes that will ultimately help to increase domestic reprocessing of portable and EV batteries.”