Defra update battery classification guidance for portable batteries

The new guidance reflects Defra’s long-term goal to tighten up the (mis)classification of batteries throughout the compliance value chain.

Whilst the legislation itself has not changed, the updated guidance provides more clarity on how battery producers should be reporting their data.

Importantly, as the updated guidance by Defra is not a change to the regulations, if producers find they need to change their battery classifications in light of this update then they must also review and amend their historic submissions, as well as their future reporting.

For example, the new guidance states that if a battery could be "used within a wide variety of items(…)then it’s highly unlikely that it’s designed exclusively for industrial or professional use", and should therefore be classed as portable. 

Furthermore, the guidance also asserts that batteries containing a one-way valve safety mechanism and weighing under 4kg should also be classed as portable as they will necessarily be sealed, and therefore fall under the established portable battery definition. The guidance states that:

"Defra and the regulators consider a battery which allows periodic release of gas for safety purposes to be sealed. For example, a valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) battery is designed to be sealed under normal operation. VRLA batteries may, under certain conditions, develop high gas pressures within the battery casing which need releasing safely through a one-way valve to maintain safety."

"Therefore, a battery with a one-way valve as a safety mechanism is sealed. And a sealed battery weighing 4kg or less, which is not an automotive or industrial battery, is a portable battery."

"Batteries that release gases or water under normal operation or allow free gas movement in both directions, such as flooded or vented batteries, cannot be portable because they are not sealed."

Check your battery reporting

In light of this, we recommend that if you are an obligated battery producer you must check your battery reporting against the full updated guidance, found here.

The updated guidance means that some producers who previously reported certain batteries as industrial, may now need to start reporting them as portable. They will also need to check and amend their historic submissions as well.

As the national 45% recycling target is achieved via collections of waste portable batteries, the new guidance will increase the classification of portable batteries placed on the market, and in turn increase producer obligations and collection requirements. The impact of this is as yet unknown, but achieving the 45% target may well become more challenging.

Jon Stewart, head of procurement at Ecosurety, commented that "The updated guidance highlights the need for producers to revisit their classification process. Although this may incur increased producer obligation following the responses received from the industry consultations, the aim is to improve consistency across producer responsibility regimes while still appropriately supporting regulatory control."

If you are unclear about the classification of batteries you are placing on the market, please contact our team for assistance.

Written by Louisa Goodfellow Published 21/09/2021 Topics Batteries

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