Fewer lead acid batteries in recycling figures

Posted on 1st September, 2016

The proportion of lead acid batteries collected to meet battery recycling targets has fallen, figures for the first half of 2016 published in August indicate.

The provisional Environment Agency numbers show that 7,775 tonnes of waste portable batteries were collected by compliance schemes in the first half of 2016.

With a collection target of 45% of the average annual amount of portable batteries placed onto the market by producers in 2014, 2015 and 2016 – likely to total around 16,413 tonnes for the year – the UK has achieved a provisional collection rate of 22.4% for 2016 to date.

Of interest is the overall proportion of the target met via collections of ‘other’ chemistries of battery – typically made up of disposal household batteries – compared to ‘lead acid’ batteries, which are predominantly the type used in cars, for example.

At the start of the year a change in the classification of portable batteries had been brought in, to address concerns that incorrect classification of lead acid batteries could be skewing data on the number of portable batteries collected for recycling.

Recyclers had claimed that much of the overall target being met by non-obligated batteries.

Portable batteries are the only category to which a recycling target has been attached – and battery recyclers had argued that as they are often unaware of the original use of some lead acid batteries, it is impossible to determine if they fall into the industrial or portable classification.

In 2012, 83% of the UK’s battery recycling obligation was met through the collection of lead acid batteries, despite them making up just 8% of the new batteries placed onto the market.

As a result of this, the government had introduced a weight threshold on batteries from January 2016 – meaning that those weighing more than 4kg could no longer be classed as portable.