Zero Waste Scotland reminds public to recycle old batteries

Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) has called for Scots to remember to recycle batteries separately to other household waste, after a recent survey carried out by ZWS found that 25 per cent of respondents admitted they disposed of batteries in the household waste bin.

The survey also revealed the most popular means of disposal for old batteries is currently via battery bins found at retail outlets, which 39 per cent of respondents said they use.

Old batteriesOf those surveyed, 21 per cent said they currently use a household waste recycling centre (HWRC) or public recycling facility when disposing of their batteries.

Batteries that are not recycled correctly often end up in landfill, where they decay, release toxic metals and increase the risk of water pollution and fires at landfill sites or waste plants.

Batteries also contain valuable materials that, when binned, cannot be recycled or reused in other products.

Adrian Bond, Recycling Manager at Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Some people may not be aware that batteries should never be disposed of alongside general household waste.

“Recycling batteries is easy and possible in more places than some people might realise. Shops that sell large volumes of batteries have to provide a battery recycling collection.

“So next time you’re in the supermarket, look out for a collection point.”

Following the results of the survey, ZWS has released guidance for members of the public on how and when to recycle batteries.

“People can make a significant difference simply by storing batteries in their home until they have enough to take to their nearest collection point,” Bond continued.

“Once used up, small household batteries such as AA and AAA batteries should be removed and stored in a plastic container like an ice cream or margarine tub and kept in a cool, dry place at normal room temperature.

“Once the container is full, batteries can then be taken to your nearest collection point such as a supermarket or recycling centre, many of which are open during the pandemic.”

Zero Waste Scotland has also advised that lithium-ion batteries, found in laptops, tablets and other gadgets, should be removed from the device when switched off once ready to be recycled.

The used lithium-ion battery should then be stored in a cool, dry place at normal room temperature until it can be taken to a recycling centre or a waste electronic and electrical equipment recycling point.

The number of lithium-ion battery related fires at landfill sites is increasing annually due to the failure to recycle these batteries correctly, which is costing the UK £158 million annually, according to recent research.

Zero Waste Scotland has also reminded the public to avoid storing batteries in metal containers and to keep new and used batteries apart.

Last year, the Environmental Services Association launched a nationwide campaign urging customers to ‘Take Charge’ and recycle batteries more responsibly.

More recently, environmental compliance scheme Valpak introduced the first carbon-free battery collection service to the UK. Designed to improve battery recycling rates, the service is currently operational across Cambridge and London and is expected to be rolled out throughout the country in the future.