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Battery regulations to ensure more recycling

22 April 2009

New regulations on recycling waste batteries and accumulators were laid in Parliament last week and will come into effect next month

The Department for Business and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, working closely with the Devolved Administrations, and the environment agencies, have produced regulations that establish the legislative framework for the collection, treatment and recycling of waste batteries and accumulators in the UK. The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009 complement the existing Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008, which set out the requirements for introducing new batteries onto the market as of September last year.

Economic and Business Minister Ian Pearson said "These regulations will help reduce the environmental impact of batteries and accumulators, which contain potentially harmful material. We are committed to helping minimise the impact on the environment of this kind of waste and this is the latest measure to help us achieve a cleaner environment."

The Regulations implement the waste provisions of the Directive. They establish the scope of producer responsibility for batteries in the UK. Key elements include:
* requiring any persons placing batteries on the market to register as a producer of batteries, and report on waste batteries collected and sent for recycling;
* requirements for the treatment and recycling of waste batteries.

For portables:
* interim collection targets to assess progress towards the Directive's targets of collecting waste portable batteries equivalent to 25% of sales by 2012 and 45% by 2016;
* producers will meet their responsibilities for collection and recycling by joining a Battery Compliance Scheme (BCS). BCSs will be approved by the relevant environment agencies of the UK; BCSs will also carry out publicity aimed at consumers informing them how they can return their waste household batteries for recycling;
* producers who put less than 1 tonne of portable batteries on the market will register with the environment agencies but will not have to fund collection, treatment and recycling;
* from February 2010, certain retailers of household batteries will have to collect in-store these batteries when they become waste.

For industrial and automotive batteries:
* the introduction of a ban on the disposal of waste industrial and automotive batteries by landfill or by incineration from 1 January 2010;
* requiring producers of industrial and automotive batteries to arrange, where necessary, separate collection and recycling of waste industrial batteries, and waste automotive batteries.

The EU's Directive on Batteries and Accumulators and Waste Batteries and Accumulators (2006/66/EC) aims to reduce the environmental impact of portable, automotive and industrial batteries by increasing recycling and 'greening' the supply chain that produces and distributes them. It applies to all types of batteries regardless of shape, volume, weight, material composition or use, except for military applications and space applications.

The laying of these Regulations transposes the waste provisions of the Directive - establishing the legislative framework for the necessary infrastructure for the separate collection, treatment and recycling of waste portable, industrial and automotive batteries in the UK. The Regulations come into force on 5 May 2009 and the first compliance period begins on 1 January 2010. During the rest of 2009, potential Battery Compliance Schemes will apply to the environment agencies, recruit battery producers and set up collection and recycling arrangements.

The requirements for shops that sell more than 32 kilogrammes of portable batteries to accept back waste batteries will start on 1 February 2010.

The environment agencies in the UK - the Environment Agency in England and Wales, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency in Scotland and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland - will register portable battery producers, and be responsible for enforcing the waste portable battery provisions of the Regulations as well as the overall treatment and recycling requirements. BERR will take responsibility for registering industrial and automotive producers and enforcing the relevant waste industrial and automotive battery provisions. Defra will appoint an enforcement authority for the distributor take back provisions of the Regulations.

The Government published its response to the public Consultation Document on the Implementation of the Batteries and Accumulators and Waste Batteries and Accumulators Directive (2006/66/EC) - Waste Battery Collection and Recycling Provisions URN08/1488

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