The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is consulting on amendments to the Government Guidance on the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009 to “clarify the definition of what constitutes a ‘portable battery’”.
The proposed amendment is aimed at providing a clearer framework to help interpretation of whether a battery “can be hand-carried by an average person without difficulty”.
It will remove the 4kg -10kg “grey area” and state a clear weight limit to determine whether a battery can be “hand carried” and is therefore a portable battery.
This will not affect the other components of the existing definition, Defra says, and it will remain important for both producers, treatment operators and exporters to give consideration to the full range of factors when taking a view on whether a battery is portable or industrial.
The published UK summary data shows that portable battery producer obligations are increasingly being met using lead-acid evidence, predominantly from collections of mixed category lead-acid batteries.
Defra – “We would also welcome any further evidence and comments on the evidence provided in this consultation especially regarding the data which underpins the proposal and impacts on the costs/benefits”
In 2012, the proportion of members obligation met by lead-acid evidence was 83%, whereas the proportion of lead-acid batteries being placed on the UK market was 8%. As a result, the tonnage of portable lead acid batteries collected for recycling greatly exceeds the declared tonnage being placed on the UK market.
In 2013, the UK collected around 470% of the tonnage of portable lead acid batteries declared as placed on the market in the same period.
It is considered that this apparent “over collection” of lead acid portable batteries is because of a difference in the way that the definition of a portable battery is being applied at the two ends of the chain, ie, when placing on the market and at collection/reprocessing.
Defra says there is therefore a need for a clearer distinction between “portable” and “industrial” batteries in the guidance to the Batteries Regulations.
Defra says this will ensure that both producers and treatment operators are better able to apply the same criteria in respect of the batteries that they handle.
Consultation options include to do nothing and retain the current guidance, or to introduce a single weight threshold of 4kg for portable batteries. Option 3 proposes the introduction of a single weight threshold of 3kg for portable batteries.
Option 2 is the Government’s preferred option.
Defra is asking for views from respondents on which option is most desirable and the reasons why.
“We would also welcome any further evidence and comments on the evidence provided in this consultation especially regarding the data which underpins the proposal and impacts on the costs/benefits,” Defra says.