back to article UK inserts battery take-back scheme

Can't decide what to do with all those old batteries you've got lying around? Got a box full of them? Or have you simply been binning them as they've run out? Properly disposing of flat AAAs, AAs,Cs, Ds and 9Vs should now be a more easy process thanks to UK legislation which came into force this month. The new law, part of the …


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  1. SW
    Thumb Up

    About time too...

    They've been collecting used batteries in supermarkets here in France for a long time.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    It is rare to see some sane environmental action by this government. This should be app...

    Oh, its pushed down from Europe... Applauded too soon I guess... Looking at the date on the directive HMG has dragged their feet as long as they could and then some...

  3. jake Silver badge

    Inquiring minds ...

    "Your typical British male owns 12 battery operated devices"

    The obvious question is ....

    "Defra found that younger gadget users tend to have a better record on recycling than older folk, but with 43 per cent of men saying they need new batteries on a monthly basis"

    ... but what about the ladies? Inquiring minds & all that.

    I'd apologize, Ms Bee ... but at least I didn't post in the tobacco thread ;-)

    (We use rechargeable batteries exclusively here at chez jake ... and we are a non-discriminatory recycling drop-off point for people who choose to waste their money on non-rechargeable & dead rechargeables alike. And mercury-polluted CFLs and used motor oil, for that matter. Takes none of our time, costs none of our money, and over the long haul, it's probably useful overall.)

  4. Insane Reindeer

    I can't believe it has taken this long...

    ...To get this started in the UK. This has been running for a year at least a year here in Finland! And before that most apartment buildings and communal waste collection points, had separate, specifically designed, bins for old batteries.

    (Shakes head in total disgust at his country of birth...)

  5. Paul Slater


    Why are "recycling centres" euphemistically named? My local one has separate collections for batteries, paper, cardboard, large electrical items (TVs etc.), small electrical items, white goods, garden waste, wood, yellow pages and catalogues, waste oil, lightbulbs, tins, glass bottles, plastic bottles... etc etc.

    Sure, if it doesn't fit one of those categories then it goes into the great big skip, but recycling centre is hardly a euphemism.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      ... it IS a euphemism when it partly or all ends up in landfill anyway, as still happens with some local authorities, despite a public show of environmentalism.

      My own local authority seems to have a fairly good record for reprocessing. But the word euphemism still partly applies. The firm that processes the rubbish has said more than once that the multiple bins pushed on us by the council are NOT necessary, and are there only so the council can cut down on collections. Washing of empty food tins is causing problems out of all proportion to any environmental value - once again purely so they can be left longer before collection. And the airport style security checks at our local waste depot are definitely surplus to requirements - especially the team of bone-idle gauleiters who stand hands-in-pockets watching aged people struggle with waste, even turning away people whose waste they consider 'unacceptable'.

      Ever tried REAL recycling? They won't have it. My council waste depot has a bin for electrical goods, where I spotted a plastic grass bin that would replace an identical but broken one on my lawnmower. Could I have it? Not a chance! Got the same answer from the council offices. But wasn't that REAL recycling? Didn't matter - there was a rule against it - they weren't sure what rule, but they were sure there was one...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    much as I support recycling...

    Seems to me that it would make more sense to put them in the recycling bin, where they could be sorted at the collection centre along with all the other recycling material.

    After all, what am I paying council tax for if I'm doing all the work?

  7. Bah Humbug

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    You say that the retailer is required to take back any battery, regardless of whether or not they sold it.

    I'm curious - does anyone know if that includes things like car batteries, ups batteries etc.?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      To be fair

      Due to the lead content of car batteries, they are quite sought after for flogging on into recycling. IIRC the car battery industry uses a very high proportion of recycled lead.

      This is because the batteries are easy to process and strip, and the actual waste percentage is quite low and easy to deal with.

      (we'll gloss over the fact that the EU at one point classed them as toxic waste, and wanted onerous paperwork requirements until they were hit hard with the green clue stick)

      Many moons ago my local tip in Swansea collected batteries, flogged them on for scrap and gave the proceeds to local charity. A case of good for the environment, and loads of smug points all round

  8. Bilgepipe

    Recycling Centres

    "...or 'recycling centres', as they're euphemistically called these days."

    It's that attitude that leads to all this stuff being thrown away in the first place. My "tip" recycles over 75% of the waste sent to it. It is, by any definition of the phrase, a recycling centre.

    1. wayfarer

      Is it?....

      Or is that just what they tell you? Many councils fulfill their responsibilities. Many most certainly do not. The kind of show they put on at waste depots tends to have very little bearing.

  9. Andrew Baines Silver badge

    council tips - or 'recycling centres',

    Round here they're called 'Civic Amenities' - not many people know that which is why the recycling rate in East Yorkshire is so poor.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      they take them into Hull because Hull CC have well designed, user friendly recycling centres in convenient places. That's what most of my friends and neighbours do.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    More half baked ideas

    "to collect unwanted power cells for recycling."

    Note the phrase "to collect", this doesn't mean they'll actually recycle them, it just means they've got to collect them. Then at the end of the day the shopkeeper will put them in the dumpster out the back.

    It's like the targets that councils have to meet on collecting recyclable material which they mix up in the back of a bin lorry to be sorted out back at the depot. But, as the seperating machines they use don't work correctly, only something in the region of 25% of the recyclable material actually goes to the right kind place and then they have to fish the cans out of the paper and the plastic out of the metal.

    The resulting piles of wrongly sorted material then go to landfill.

    Unlike when 2 blokes and a van used to collect the recycling and sort it out into the correct buckets in the street. The centrifuge machines that do the sorting cost upwards of £11 million quid whereas the 2 blokes in the van are on minimum wage. And still employed collecting, feeding and fixing the beast. So same number of people employed, more money on equipment and less actual recycling being done.

    Still, they're meeting targets on collecting recycling, they're just not recycling it :(

  11. Matt D


    Stepping cautiously around the double entendre that "43 per cent of men say they need new batteries on a monthly basis", haven't they heard about rechargeable batteries? We've got TV remotes, wireless mouse, keyboard, digital camera etc all running off rechargeable batteries - can't remember the last time we bought new one-hit-wonder Duracells.

  12. David Harrison 1
    Thumb Down

    Trying too hard?

    What's euphemistic about calling a rubbish tip a recycling centre? Once upon a time all you could do there was throw things away for landfill, hence, rubbish tip. Visit any halfway decent one now and the landfill section is a tiny part of the whole. Virtually anything that can be kept apart for recycling is. Hence, recycling centre. Simples. Of course what happens to the old electronic and white goods is anyone's guess.

  13. ravenviz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    About bloody time

    I generally use rechargeables where possible but you always get caught out and have to buy some disposables, or some gadgets have batteries inside that die and you have to chuck the whole thing away. I have a clear plastic bin about 2l capacity that is about brimming and I was going to have to drive 12 miles to an electrical retailer that I know can take them. It's also revealing that the container they're in now has an offensive grey sludge in the bottom! :-o

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is so normal

    in Germany, it surprises me it took UK up to 2010 to get something like this...

    Couldn't believe it couple years ago when I asked someone here where to get rid of the batteries and they explained there's no such battery recycling scheme going on here O_o

  15. Harry
    Thumb Up

    That's a much better idea ...

    ... than the stupid one they have with fluorescent tubes, which merely allows the seller to put up a sign saying unwanted tubes can be taken to a site ten miles away and isn't open all day every day.

    Now, lets have a rule that sellers must freely take back used packaging -- bottles, boxes etc.

    1. Alan Firminger

      and electronic assemblies

      In fact, anything that must be recycled.

      Such a standard would put the true cost of any product onto its ticket.

  16. phapher

    about time

    Been like this in Germany for ages.

  17. Paul
    Jobs Halo

    packaging and waste VAT changes

    I think we're long overdue having VAT be a variable charge whereby it's low for less environmentally damaging products and higher for more damaging items.

  18. Mister_C

    about time too

    I worked in Germany in 1990. Every gate at the works had a little bin, about the size of the ciggie bins you see next to pub doors, for employees to bin old batteries. It was almost harder to put them into a normal dustbin.

    Twenty years later, our leaders start to catch on. Now, if we can get our council to start collecting bottles and cardboard we might stand a chance...

  19. Velv

    Bettery Powered Devices

    "Your typical British male owns 12 battery operated devices"

    No details in the text of how many battery operated devices the typical British female owns

  20. Nuke

    I suppose they will go off to China ..

    .. to be unpicked by an army of 8 year olds.

    I hope they wear their goggles.

  21. TRT Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    How many?

    I suppose the average British female owns 13 devices, then?

  22. Jerome 0


    I've certainly not noticed a collection bin at my local supermarket. I suspect that handing in a bag of batteries at customer services may just end up with them getting surreptitiously binned at the end of the day.

    1. SirTainleyBarking

      Size matters (ooh - err)?

      My local Tesco is a fairly large one and they have a battery shaped bin by the front door. Job done. However they also have a large recycling point (Clothes banks and the like) at the back of the carpark anyway.

      Our similarly sized Sainsburys, who like to think they are a cut above does not.....

  23. JohnG


    Like others have said, battery bins have been available in Germany for years. More than that, it is illegal here in Germany to put batteries into normal waste bins.

    Someone above mentioned about retailers being required to take back packaging - this too is law in Germany. I have seen some of the more eco-aware supermarket customers remove packing from various products at the checkout and hand it to the checkout operator.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Correct me if I'm wrong but...

      ...didn't Germany pass some legislation regarding banning the use of compound packing materials, the type that is almost impossible to recycle? Like silvered paper or card fused with plastic.

      Can't wait for that one. Seriously, how in this day and age can it be legal to manufacture packing materials that can only be put into landfill? That's a no-brainer.

  24. Graham Marsden

    A good start (at last) but what about the rest of the stuff?

    To get to my local recycling centre (and it *is*, as has been mentioned by others, a centre for recycling) requires a 10 mile round trip.

    Consequently recycling of batteries, low-energy lightbulbs, old computer kit and much more is actually environmentally *unfriendly* unless it's possible to take an entire car-load to offset the fuel involved in getting there in the first place...

  25. Richard Porter

    Total overkill!

    All we need is some distinctive bags so we can put voltaic cells (and batteries thereof) out with the recycling bins. Different colour bags could be provided for flourescent tubes and small WEEE items.

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