The newly developed battery recycling plant, at WasteCare’s Halifax treatment facility, commenced production this week.
The plant is the first of its kind in the UK and enables all alkaline batteries to be recovered down to their component parts. More than 90% of all portable batteries collected for recycling are based on zinc and manganese chemistry, including zinc chloride, zinc air, and the more powerful alkaline batteries.
Spent batteries contain valuable metals as well as being hazardous and a potential risk to the environment if not properly handled. The new plant is able to recover the individual metals and their oxides, exceeding the European recycling rates as set out in the Battery Recycling Regulations.
The plant, which can process more than 10,000 tonnes of batteries per annum, produces a metal rich powder, high in zinc and manganese, described in the industry as “Black Mass”.
Initially, the Black Mass is being sent for metal recovery in Northern Europe, although research is underway to establish our own UK based recycling process. The facility also produces a clean magnetic ferrous stream that will be recycled in the UK.
As Graeme Parkin, WasteCare’s Operations Director pointed out “the UK now has the capacity to recycle its portable batteries rather than export waste”.
Battery producers, the waste management sector as well as retailers now need to increase their support to encourage the general public to do the right thing and take their old batteries to their nearest BatteryCan, either at their local supermarket or civic amenity site. As a nation we need to double battery collection rates in the coming years”.
BatteryBack, the UK’s largest portable Battery Compliance Scheme is a wholly owned subsidiary of the WasteCare Group. Together, the businesses manage a national battery collection service for all types of portable batteries. They also supply and install the ubiquitous BatteryCan. The company collects over 65% of all the used portable batteries in the UK and is working with its members such as Duracell to get more batteries recycled.
The plant comes after a busy year of communication campaigns, such as national radio interviews and “The Big Battery Hunt” at Easter with Duracell UK Ltd. More campaigns are planned for next year and beyond to continue to drive up battery recycling rates.
Duracell’s Marketing Director Christina Turner says, “We are proud to partner with Battery Back on The Big Battery Hunt in our nation’s schools. This programme aims to get used batteries out of the household and into the appropriate channels for recycling. This new plant will be another way in which to raise awareness that batteries require recycling, and remind consumers to dispose of them in their local BatteryCan.”
WasteCare is currently investing almost £1m in the Halifax site including major refurbishment including the construction of a visitor’s viewing and education area, improved infrastructure and storage facilities. This will ensure that the site is fit for the future and operations continue to have minimal impact on the environment. The company has already started on plans to open a Lithium battery recovery facility in the near future.
Although the plant has been planned for several years, the installation was delayed awaiting the decision to limit the quantity of lead acid batteries that were deemed portable as defined in the current Waste Batteries Regulations 2015. However, the proportion of lead acid batteries that are recycled is still much higher than the amount of similar batteries placed on the market and continued scrutiny by the EA and Defra is required to ensure that the battery regulations are being implemented correctly.
Peter Hunt, Managing Director of the WasteCare Group, commented ”It is fantastic to see the plant installed after so many years of planning. The plant is natural integration for WasteCare’s battery activities and will ensure that BatteryBack can continue to offer sustainable, cost effective compliance for its members”. The site will also have capacity to recycle alkaline batteries on behalf of other battery collectors and schemes.
BatteryBack, operates over 35,000 collection points throughout the UK. Visit www.batteryback.org to find your nearest BatteryCan.