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UK misses battery collection target

New figures from the Environment Agency (EA) have revealed that the UK has missed its battery collection target by 258 tonnes.

An image of battery waste

According to the figures, the UK collected 17,386 tonnes of battery waste in 2019, against a collection target of 17,646.

The collection target is calculated as 45 per cent of the average annual amount of portable batteries placed on the UK market by scheme members and small producers over the past three years, which came to 39,208 tonnes in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Although this target has been missed by 0.66 per cent, standing at 44.34 per cent, there’s still time for the collection figure to be reached, as compliance schemes have until 31 May 2020 to obtain evidence to meet their members’ obligations for the 2019 compliance period.

The news that the UK has missed the target has come as a shock to the industry, with Robbie Staniforth, Head of Policy at Ecosurety, commenting: “I’m very surprised to see that the target has been missed by so much.

“In previous years, a small shortfall has been attributed to small producers but this figure is much higher. Hopefully, it is just an administrative issue between one of the compliance schemes and the Environment Agency that will be resolved before the final data is published at the end of May. There could be an error in the amount of batteries placed on the market or the amount recycled. We will be monitoring the issue closely over the coming weeks.”

“Very close to achieving its target”

John Redmayne, Managing Director of the European Recycling Platform (ERP), said: “It looks as though the UK was very close to achieving its 45 per cent target. There are factors in the system which mean the UK often achieves just below the targets; in particular small producers don’t have to join a scheme but do have to post their data.”

The EA’s collection figures split batteries into three categories: lead acid, nickel cadmium and ‘other’, with the majority of batteries falling into the ‘other’ classification. 

Redmayne continued: “As has become a pattern over the years, a significant number of ‘other’ chemistry batteries were processed in Q4, as schemes worked to hit their obligations on behalf of members.

“The government has indicated that it expects to release a consultation on changes to the system in 2020. ERP is actively engaged with this and looks forward to the next steps.”

Lead acid battery collection

The EA’s battery collection figures show a significant disparity between the number of lead acid batteries put on the market and the amount collected by compliance schemes.

While lead acid batteries constitute just three per cent of the amount of portable batteries placed on the market in 2019 (1,224 tonnes), far more are being collected, with lead acid batteries accounting for 62 per cent of all waste portable batteries collected by compliance schemes at 10,746 tonnes.

You can view the figures on the EA’s National Packaging Waste Database

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