So far this year, a total of 11,094 tonnes of collected waste portable batteries have been reported, which represents 69% progress against the UK collection target.
Despite the impact of Covid-19 on collections, for 2020 the requirement for battery schemes to comply with their obligations remains the same as in previous years. After the publication of Q3 data, the latest indicative UK collection target for 2020 is 16,088 tonnes.
Since 2016 the UK collection target has been set at 45% of the average volume of portable batteries placed on the UK market by producers in the last three years, including the current year. The target for 2020 is therefore based on the average reported in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The Environment Agency released data for Quarter 3 of 2020 reveals that 4,839 tonnes were collected during this period (July to September), bringing the total collections for the first three quarters of 2020 to 69%.
Unlike WEEE, the last quarter of the calendar year is traditionally the best performing period for batteries collections. As things stand, compliance schemes would need to report at least 4,994 tonnes of waste portable batteries in Quarter 4 to meet the 2020 target. This is not expected to be a problem however, as in Q4 2019 5,902 tonnes were reported - 33% of the total waste portable batteries volume reported that year. So the industry is reasonably confident that the collection target will be achieved.
Notable distortion in collections
Q3 2020 was a strong quarter with a total volume of 10,015 tonnes of portal batteries placed on the market, 3% higher than Q3 2019.
The most remarkable information in the Quarter 3 data is probably the considerable volume of portable lead acid collected in this period. At 3,537 tonnes, this constitutes the biggest quarter for the collection of portable lead acid since the start of the regulations.
As with previous quarterly figures, there is a notable distortion in the volume of waste portable lead acid batteries collected compared with the volume of new portable lead acid batteries placed on the market.
For example, in Q3 2020 only 366 tonnes of lead acid batteries were reported as placed on the market compared with a collection volume of 3,537 tonnes. If we look at the chemistry breakdown of collected portable batteries in the first three quarters of 2020, lead acid batteries accounted for 72% of that volume but accounted for only around 4% of the volume of portable batteries placed of the market.
Waste batteries regulatory review
The consultation on UK battery legislation is anticipated for the last quarter of 2021 and Defra is expected to address the lead acid anomaly in the consultation.
Perhaps more importantly, on 10 December the European commission proposed new batteries legislation which includes an ambitious increase in collection targets, raising the current 45% collection rate for portable batteries to 65% in 2025 and 70% in 2030. The UK will need to decide if it is to follow this lead.
Head of policy Robbie Staniforth commented “Clearly it has been a strange and difficult year for batteries compliance. The way we use and dispose of batteries has altered significantly, with much of the population working from home. While it looks likely that the target will be met this year, a long term vision for battery consumption is clearly lacking."
"The EU are moving ahead with their challenging proposals. Next year will be a good test of the Government’s approach to the new relationship with our European neighbours. It will be interesting to see if we match or go beyond the EU’s proposals.”
Free battery collections
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