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Batteries Regulations

Current position
Will you be affected?
How is it likely to work?
Targets
Data
Key requirements of the Batteries Directive
Likely timeline
What must you do?
Further information


Current position

The UK transposed the EU Batteries Directive into the UK Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009 on 5 May. This should have been completed by 26 Sept 08, but only the single market provisions met the deadline.

The Regulations affect all companies that place portable, industrial and automotive batteries onto the UK market.

These are defined as:

An automotive battery:

  • starts a vehicle engine or
  • powers lights in a vehicle

An industrial battery:

  • is designed exclusively for industrial or professional use or
  • powers an electric or ‘hybrid’ vehicle or
  • is unsealed but not automotive

A portable battery:

  • is sealed and
  • under 4 kilograms and
  • is not automotive nor industrial

The regulations do not apply to batteries for use by the military or in space.

Government Guidance Notes (May 2014) are available that should be used to understand how the Regulations will work in practice. There is more up to date but less comprehensive Guidance on GOV.UK.

There is also old EA Guidance (September 2011) which is more comprehensive and quite useful.

As at Sept 2017, there are 2,256 producers registered 5 schemes currently listed on the Agency NPWD site.

  • Valpak
  • Budget Pack
  • ERP
  • Batteryback
  • Repic eBatt 

The EA publish a Public Register showing which producer is with which scheme

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Are you be affected?

If your business places batteries onto the UK market, you are a Batteries producer and must register. You are also a producer if you import products containing batteries. 
If you sell portable batteries in the UK, you are also likely to be affected although only distributors (sellers) that sell more than 32kgs a year  will have an obligation. This equates to approximately 24 AA batteries a week and includes those selling to businesses.

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How does it work?

For portable batteries:

  1. All producers (companies that place batteries onto the UK market - generally, battery importers) should register as soon as they are aware they are obligated. For those at or below the threshold, they must register with one of the Agencies. For those above, they must register with a scheme.
  2. Companies that import batteries for their own use will not be classed as producers
  3. The threshold for having to register with a compliance scheme is 1 tonne. All producers will have to supply data but only those that place a quantity of batteries above the threshold  will have to pay for the collection, treatment and recycling of batteries and contribute to communication with consumers.
  4. Data must be supplied by large producers by the end of a month following a quarter whilst small producers only have supply data annually direct to the relevant environmental Agency.
  5. Batteries Compliance Schemes had to pay £17k to the Agency for initial approval, and must then pay £90k per annum the the Agency for registration regardless of number of members, plus £600 per member.
  6. Tonnage collection targets are applied to schemes based on the national targets imposed by the regulations – stepped annually up to 45% in 2016 – times the tonnage placed onto the market by its large members averaged over the previous two years. There are no penalties proposed for failure to meet the interim targets for 2013, 2014 and 2015, but the 2012 and 2016 targets are mandatory.
  7. Schemes must set up arrangements to collect sufficient batteries to meet their targets. There are three main sources:
    • Retailers – all retailers selling more that 32kgs of batteries a year must offer free in store take back. They should then have collection arrangements with a scheme, but if they can’t agree, they are entitled to call a scheme – any scheme – to get their batteries collected. More details here.
    • Local authorities – most civic amenity sites will have battery collection points and a number of LAs are also starting to separately collect batteries from households.
    • Protocols from lead acid battery collections - the EA allows a % of lead acid batteries to be claimed as portable batteries. This has now become by far the largest proportion of portable battery evidence.
  8. Treatment facilities – Batteries Treatment facilities (ABTO) and exporters (ABE)  have to be approved. The old WMP11 document is still valid and a much more comnprehensive guide to approval than what is now on GOV.UK.
  9. These issue evidence for portable batteries they have received which is then used by schemes to demonstrate they have met their targets.
  10. Schemes must each operate a communications process for consumers that must be set out in their applications for approval.
  11. Schemes will have to get their sums right as it unlikely there will be trading and schemes will therefore have to pay the costs for the collection and treatment of any batteries collected above their target requirements.  If they under collect, they fail to comply although the targets for 2010 and 2011 are not enforceable.
  12. Full producer responsibility for financing started started on 1 January 2010.
  13. Retailer take back obligations started on 1 February 2010. 
  14. All data, public registers and registration for batteries is conducted through the National Packaging Waste Database.
  15. Storage and transport of batteries from retailers is affected by both the Hazardous Waste Regulations and the Carriage of Dangerous Goods requirements. Defra has brought out a comprehensive Guide.

For automotive and industrial (A&I) batteries.

  1. Producers must register direct to BIS within 28 days of first placing batteries onto the UK.
  2. If they are also a portable batteries producer, their A&I registration will be included with their portable batteries registration through either a scheme or direct to the Agencies.
  3. A&I producers must publish a plan as to how end users may return their batteries free of charge.
  4. From 1 January 2010, producers must offer to take back spent batteries from those that hold them, be they the final user or an organisation that might have removed the battery such as a garage. In reality, the value of these types of batteries means that they are already collected through a commercial infrastructure.
  5. These types of batteries are hazardous waste and, under the Regulations, are banned from landfill. End holders will therefore have to ensure that they are collected using consignment notes and are taken to aproved treatment facilities.
  6. By 31 March in each year, producers must provide data to BIS on the weight and chemistry of batteries placed on the market and spent batteries collected and sent for treatment.

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Targets

The UK Regulations set specific targets for the collection of portable batteries relative to the amount placed on the market in the previous year. These have to be met by Schemes - and therefore large producers - and are as follows:

  • 2010 - 10%
  • 2011 - 18%
  • 2012 - 25%
  • 2013 - 30%
  • 2014 - 35%
  • 2015 - 40%
  • 2016 - 45%

The targets in 2012 and 2016 - the Directive target years - are mandatory. Schemes that fail to meet those targets are therefore committing and offence. In the other years, the targets are not mandatory, but schemes will be expected to meet the targets and could have their approval withdrawn if they do not. 

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Data

The EA publishes data relating to registered producers and the amount of batteries placed on the market and collected. 

The graph below shows the amount of portable batteries collected each year since the Regulations began. It can be seen that up until 2014, all the 'growth' has come from counting lead acid batteries which were already being recycled. The real purpose of the Regulations - the small batteries we throw away every day - have seen collected volumes fall. 2014 has seen a change as PCSs prepare for a change in the definition of portable batteries which is likely to take effect in 2016.


Key requirements of the EU Batteries Directive

For portable batteries:

  • 25% collection rate by end 2012 and 45% by end 2016
  • All collected batteries to be recycled
  • Recycling levels to be applied from 2011:
    • 75% by average weight of nickel-cadmium batteries and accumulators, including recycling of the cadmium has to be recycled;
    • Recycling of 50% by average weight of other waste batteries and accumulators
  • Producers responsible for financing of collection and recycling
  • Distributors (retailers) must take back batteries free of charge

For Industrial/automotive batteries

  • Ban on landfill and incineration – therefore all batteries to be recycled
  • Recycling rate of 65% to be achieved
  • Producers of industrial batteries to offer to take back free of charge
  • Producers of automotive batteries to take back free of charge where the disposal is not covered by the End of Life Vehicles (ELV) Regulations

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Timeline

  • For portable batteries
    • by 15 October - Large producers must register with a schemes
    • within 28 days of becoming a producer from 15 October, small producers must register with one of the three environmental Agencies
    • by 31 October - schemes must register members with the Agency
  • For Automotive and industrial batteries (unless registering as a portable batteries producer)
    • within 28 days of becoming a producer from 16 October, register with BIS
    • By 1 December, publish takeback plans
  • 31 January each year - schemes must submit member data to Agencies
  • 31 March each year - automotive and industrial batteries producers must supply data to BIS
  • Quarterly, by the end of each month following a quarter, schemes must submit data to the Agencies for batteries placed on the market by their members and for spent batteries collected.
  • Annually, by 31 January, small producers must submit data to the Agencies for batteries placed on the market in the previous year.

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What must you do?

  • If your business imports portable batteries, either as batteries for onward sale to users or with electrical products - such as power tools, mobile phones, watches, cameras etc - you must register.
  • If you placed 1 tonne or less per annum onto the UK market, you are a Small Producer and must register with the Environment Agency.
  • If you placed more than one tonne onto the UK market, you are a Large Producer and must register with one of the approved Compliance Schemes.
  • If you business imports automotive or industrial batteries, again, either as products or part of products, you must register your company details.
  • If you also import portable batteries, you must include your industrial and automotive batteries registration at the same time as your portable batteries registration.
  • If you ONLY import industrial and automotive batteries, then you must register with BIS although registration is done through the same system as a portable batteries.
  • Registration as a Small Producer, a Small Producer who is also an Industrial and Automotive Producer, or just as an Industrial and Automotive Producer must be done online through the Government's National Packaging Waste Database site here.
  • To register as a portable battery Small Producer costs £30. Large Producers have to pay a £680 EA fee plus a proportion of the £90k that the scheme has to pay the EA annually plus a membership fee.

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Further information

GOV.UK (producer)

GOV.UK (ABTO/AE)

BIS (archive)

Defra (archive)

Environment Agency (archive)

On-line Registration

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