The UK uses nearly 1 billion batteries per year, almost all of them ending up in the bin - the Batteries Directive provides a more environmentally friendly solution
11 March 2010
There is no doubt we need to move away from disposing batteries and other hazardous waste at landfill sites in the UK in order to protect and sustain our planet for future generations. The need for more environmentally friendly solutions comes from the increasing concerns surrounding the damage that battery waste can cause.
The recent introduction of the EU Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC into UK law is the country's first step towards zero battery waste.
The UK uses nearly 1bn batteries per year, with almost all of them ending up in the bin, therefore going to landfill sites with general waste. During 2009, only 3 per cent of waste batteries were recycled in the UK. Most batteries contain heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury, which can damage the environment if not disposed of properly - heavy metals can leak into the ground when the battery casing corrodes, causing pollution and endangering wildlife - so we should all take responsibility for our waste batteries.
Indeed, the introduction of the EU Batteries Directive is a welcomed piece of legislation for protecting the environment. The legislation has now been fully implemented into UK law to enforce producer restrictions on specific hazardous content in batteries (mercury and high levels of cadmium), as well as setting producer collection and recycling targets. The regulations affect any business that use, produce, supply or dispose of batteries, as well as any business that manufactures or designs battery-powered products, such as power tools. Specifically, the regulations affect the following businesses: Manufacturers, importers, distributors, vehicle sales and maintenance businesses, businesses involved in treating and recycling waste batteries and accumulators (rechargeable batteries), as well as end-users, which therefore includes virtually every business in the UK.
The new legislation has been split into ?two parts:
Requirements on collecting, treating and recycling waste batteries and accumulators, through the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009. These rules came into force on 5 May 2009, and producers now have to pay for the collection, treatment and recycling of batteries, since ?1 January 2010.
Requirements on battery labelling and design through the Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008 SI 2164. These rules are now in force
Taken from information provided by the Environment Agency: www.netregs.gov.uk
This legislation should therefore start to see more responsibility being taken by producers, businesses and consumers alike for their selection, consumption and disposal of batteries. The new legislation aims to reduce the hazardous content in batteries and to influence the final disposal of batteries by enhancing the collection and recycling facilities. Battery-powered equipment is very often the right choice for businesses in terms of health and safety and innovative battery technologies can bring high performance and productivity gains to your business.
By embracing new technologies and having in place a recycle plan for waste batteries, you can achieve compliance and continue to use cordless technology in your business. To support the government drive to achieve zero battery waste, it is also essential to educate employees to ensure they understand the importance of recycling, which will result in their full support.
The UK uses nearly 1bn batteries per year, with almost all of them ending up in the bin, therefore going to landfill sites. During 2009, only 3 per cent of waste batteries were recycled in the UK
The regulations affect any business that use, produce, supply or dispose of batteries, as well as any business that manufactures or designs battery-powered products, such as power tools
By embracing new technologies and having in place a recycle plan for waste batteries, you can achieve compliance and continue to use cordless technology in your business
For additional information about the EU Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC - how it will affect you and solutions that you can use to assist, visit www.netregs.gov.uk or www.hilti.co.uk/cpc
Berni Grant is the sustainability and facilities manager at Power Tools Manufacturer for Hilti GB