“Annually, every UK household disposes of an average of 21 batteries as part of its general waste, but at present there are very few kerbside collection schemes planned for end-of-life batteries,” continued Armitage. “This means consumers will have to drive the recycling effort by taking their old batteries to dedicated collection points in retail outlets or municipal sites. Not only is this problematic in itself, if householders don’t even know about the directive and the responsibility they have acquired overnight, then the whole recycling effort will fall down from the outset.” Vince Armitage, Divisional Vice President at Varta Consumer Batteries
Beneficial as its results would be, a newly enacted law making the recycling of batteries mandatory across the United Kingdom may not be being properly executed. This, according to the Vice President of the U.K. battery manufacturer Varta, will leave the ambitious directive dead in the water before fully getting the opportunity to take flight.
“As a manufacturer, we welcome the introduction of the Batteries Directive,” said Vince Armitage. “However, we have concerns about how it’s going to work in practice. The directive places the responsibility of meeting its stringent collection and recycling targets on the manufacturer, but it relies on the cooperation of consumers and retailers to make it work. However, a lack of promotion means that awareness of the directive amongst these key groups is low. This gives us great concern that, as a nation, we are setting ourselves up to fail before we even begin.”
Armitage wasn’t without solutions however, as he pointed to some very simple changes that could be made for the directive to have the intended result.
“To stand a chance of succeeding, the directive needs uniformity. At present this isn’t the case. Even the colours of the collection bins differ from compliance scheme to compliance scheme,” continued Armitage. “It sounds like a simple thing but this will further confuse the consumer which in turn will reduce the amount of batteries kept out of landfill. Granted, we have a long way to catch-up with countries like Belgium who are already recycling 59 per cent of their batteries waste but if we get the foundations right, then the targets laid out in the directive will be easily achieved,” he concluded.
The law 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.