Monday, 17 March 2008

The Wonderful World of Battery Recycling

If you're currently throwing your spent batteries in the bin, it's time for a rethink. The 2006 EU Battery Directive states that 25% of spent household batteries will have to be recycled by 2012, rising to 45% by 2016. Given that only 2% are currently recycled (some 600 million are sent to landfill each year), there's some way to go.

Someone wanting to do their bit for the environment and dispose of batteries safely may be turned away from this by the authorities. The website
lists the properties that the container used needs to have, but makes no suggestions as to what is actually OK to use. It says 'Store and transport batteries in cases that are secure, waterproof, flame resistant, acid and alkali leak proof, shockproof and clearly labeled. Ensure your collection vehicles have adequate facilities, including lockable stillages, to transport batteries safely.'

A lockable stillage is a large metal palet that can be locked, according to the wonderful internet. I hope that thousands of people will be doing this, and that not all will be put off by this unhelpful and off putting website. Remember that for most people we are talking about a small container to be carried in an ordinary car. Not a safe to be carried in a lorry.

Some websites offer solutions; has one for £23.89 has a similar one for £40 have one for £25 (plus VAT) All types of batteries can be recycled - as long as they fit in the tissue box-size. When full, G&P will collect the box and recycle its contents. So, you can dispose of everything from lithium button batteries to laptop batteries, but no car batteries.

Many schools, offices, charities and local councils run battery recycling programmes so be sure to check what is available in your area. If you can not find an adequate battery recycling option, contact the battery manufacturer for further instructions. When it is time to change batteries, consider investing in environmentally friendly rechargeable batteries to cut down on future waste. Sainsbury's were doing a Freepost battery recycling scheme, but this seems to have been canceled.

In the UK, we recycle more than 90% of our lead acid batteries that are used in our cars, however, only 4% of the non-lead acid waste batteries are recycled. This means that around 600 million UK household batteries, the equivalent weight of 110 Jumbo Jets, are sent to landfill unnecessarily every year. Not to mention all that acid and pollution leaking into the ground.

Until the EU Directive is fully implemented and appropriate separate collection facilities are available, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Dedra) suggest that householders dispose of batteries in their household waste disposal, while businesses are advised to contact specialist waste management companies.

In the UK, some councils are already beginning to offer battery recycling services, mostly at the request of residents. Visit your local authority website to find out where you closest disposal point can be found. It may also be a good idea, to set up a collection point in your work place and collect batteries in bulk before taking them to be recycled.

Curry's, PC World and Sainsbury's may all have in-store collection points for batteries. Lots of the big retailers have a Freepost address so you can send them your dead batteries in the post. Alternatively, check the battery itself to see if the manufacturer has a Freepost address.

Energizer/Ever Ready/UCAR/Ralston Energy
Recycling Division, FREEPOST LOL2311, Dunstable,Bedfordshire, LU5 4YY. 0208 882 8661

Duracell (also make Mallory), Duracell Customer Services, FREEPOST OF1503,
Aylesbury Road, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 3LJ. 0800 716434


Hilary Lambert said...

Thanks for this update. Here in Kentucky USA battery recycling is a cause for laughter, not action. I sense your impatience with the apparent lack of 'implementation', but at least the EU requirement is on the books -- that is a massive first step.

Henning said...

As a German family presently living in Berkshire for one year, we are wondering quite a bit, where to recycle batteries. In Germany it is very easy: In every shop where you can buy batteries you can also give them back. That's the easiest for the customers and it was implemented at least 5 years ago, presumably for longer.

Ailbhe said...

The True Food Co-op will take your batteries for recycling, if they have a market near you.

Adrian Windisch said...

The Civic Centre has a collection point near the entrance. In Spain they have them in most Cities and Towns, we are far behind.