FROM TODAY any retailer that sells batteries will also be responsible for their recycling.
This means that whenever your remote controlled helicopter or racing car runs out of batteries you simply drop off the old ones when you pick up your new ones. The change in binning practices is the result of a new rule from Europe that dictates how and when batteries should be discarded.
Rather than relying in the consumer to do the right thing with batteries, the EU says that retailers should take the responsibility, a move backed by Defra in the UK.
"New rules mean that from today, any retailer who sells over 32kg of batteries per year (about 1 pack of 4 AAs a day) is required to provide a free recycling point for consumers to return their used / flat batteries. In practice, this means that most retailers who sell batteries will now have a collection point; making it easier for everyone to recycle," the body says, adding that the average household uses some 21 batteries a year.
Environment Minister Huw Irranca-Davies added, ""This new legislation will make it easier for consumers to do the right thing whilst ensuring retailers fulfil their part of the bargain. Old batteries can cause harm to the environment when they are not recycled. The new approach to disposal of batteries will help to reduce the number of batteries that now end up in landfill."
Currently, according to Defra, the UK manages to recycle about three percent of its batteries. It expects that by offering easy to find bins in shops it can increase this number to 45 percent by 2016.
The British Retail Consortium was keen on the idea, but less happy with its design. In a statement its head of environment, a Bob Gordon said, "The aim of reducing the number of batteries going to landfill is a good one. Retailers recognise their responsibilities and they're ready with the facilities the law requires but on its own that won't be enough."
Rather than rely on every man and his corner shop to do the work of recyclers, the BRC thinks that others should chip in to keep things moving. "Informing customers isn't all down to retailers. We need a comprehensive and continuing information campaign. And shops can't be the only route for collection. We need an infrastructure to develop which includes workplaces, schools, community centres and kerbside collection," explained Gordon.
Perhaps mindful of the need to install another brightly coloured carrier bag next to his bin for dealing with on recycling missions, Gordon added, "We need more local authorities to take used batteries from homes and a more consistent recycling regime for all materials. Incompatible schemes for dealing with different waste products - batteries, electricals, glass, plastics - confuse people and hold back overall recycling rates."
If you have never heard of rechargeable batteries and wish to dispose of your normal ones in the appropriate manner, you should look out for the Be Positive sign. µ
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