Under the Battery Regulations, from February 1, UK retailers that sell more than 32kg of portable batteries per year (equivalent of one four-pack of AA batteries a day) in an individual store, over the internet or via mail order, are obliged to take back used batteries from the public free of charge.
Speaking to MRW about retailer battery collections G&P Batteries managing director Michael Green said: “It’s very early days yet and we expect to see more batteries collected as the weeks go by. There are probably more collection boxes than are immediately apparent as some retailers do not like giving up space for non-retail activity. However, I think most retailers are complying but the enthusiasm may vary from retailer to retailer.”
Green gave a talk at a recent MRW conference to a group of around 50 waste industry stakeholders and conducted a straw poll about retail battery collections.
He said that a quarter of people had seen a retail collection box in a shop since the regulations came into play. However, he said a total of three or four people had said that they had used one.
Green added: “Just putting containers in retail places is not enough, they will not fill up by themselves. People need to be informed and educated about what they need to do with them. A very big education job is needed and discussions are currently going on about where the responsibility lies for this job.”
British Retail Consortium head of environment Bob Gordon said: “Retailers should have them in-store and I will be surprised if they do not. This is a very manageable commitment for them.”
Gordon said that the BRC was working with a Government batteries enforcement body, the VCA, to help enforce the regulations. The VCA will check if retailers who are obliged to take back batteries are complying under the regulations.
He said the key to meeting the UK’s ambitious targets was to inform consumers about battery recycling and asking them not to “bin” their batteries. He also said that collecting batteries through retailers was not the only option. Collections from schools, kerbside and the workplace also needed to be included into the collection infrastructure.