The clock is ticking for battery retailers in the U.K. As part of the European Directive on Batteries and Accumulators that was was published on September 26, 2006; any U.K. retailer that sells more than 32 kg (appx.70 lbs.) a year of portable batteries will need to provide free in-store recycling points for waste batteries beginning Feb. 1, 2010. The law also affects retailers that import more than 1 ton of batteries a year and is part of an overall initiative targeting a goal to collect 45% of batteries for recycling by the year 2016. Currently the U.K. collects less than 3% of waste batteries, which is one of the lowest rates in Europe.
One of the many challenges brought about by the U.K.’s recycling law and it’s ambitious goals will be it’s affect on online battery distributors. Without a physical store, fulfilling their obligation to take back old batteries for recycling purposes will undoubtedly come with added difficulties and costs.
As of now there is no such law for battery retailers here in the United States. As our friends at Earth911 point out, the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation(RBCR) offers a free rechargeable battery recycling service for retailers and in recent years has seen a great deal of success with it’s program. As the U.K.’s battery recycling laws play out over the next few years, it will be interesting to compare and contrast the results seen by mandatory recycling programs versus those of programs not bound by legislation. Time will certainly tell which of the methods has a greater effect on the overall goal of keeping batteries out of our landfills.