The Battery Mountain

This article was taken from Issue 78

How many batteries do you use in your household? There’s your phone, your computer, your car, your remote control, your camera, your children’s toys, your clock, your electric toothbrush… it starts to add up, doesn’t it? And do you know what chemicals are in them? Alkaline? Nickel-cadmium? Nickel metal hydride? Lithium (of which there are several types)? Lead-acid?

In 2006, the Europe-wide Batteries Directive was laid, with the intention of increasing battery recycling and cutting the amount of hazardous substances – in particular, mercury, cadmium and lead – dumped in the environment. Member states were obliged to promote separate waste collections and prevent batteries and accumulators being thrown in the residual bin. The directive became law in the UK in 2010, obligating producers selling more than 32 kilogrammes (kg) a year of portable batteries to take back used batteries from the public free of charge, via compliance schemes, of which there are five. Collection rates of at least 25 per cent had to be reached by 26 September 2012 and of 45 per cent (around 30,000 tonnes) by 26 September 2016.