The Environment Agency is urging more small businesses that make, import or sell batteries and battery-operated equipment from torches to toys to ensure they comply with new regulations aimed at reducing the environmental impact of batteries.
By now any business who placed batteries for the first time on the UK market in 2009 should have registered as a battery producer – and the first deadline for submitting batteries data for 2009 is 31 January 2010.
Both actions are new responsibilities under the Waste Batteries & Accumulators Regulations that came into force in 2009. The regulations set out how all types of waste batteries and re-chargeable batteries are collected, treated and recycled in the UK.
Around 700 million batteries, which can contain substances harmful to the environment such as cadmium, are landfilled in the UK each year – and just 3% of the 30,000 tonnes of portable batteries that are sold onto the UK market annually are currently recycled.
Bob Mead, the Environment Agency’s Batteries Project Manager, said: "Large producers, who account for some 98% of the battery market, have responded well to calls to prepare for the new regulations but many small producers have yet to register.
"Ensuring that portable batteries are correctly disposed of and their component parts, such as their metal casings, are re-used is good news for the environment. But, looking after the environment is a shared responsibility and we need all types of businesses to get involved.
"My message to all those who manufacture, import or sell batteries, or products containing batteries, is to check if you are a producer. If you are, it is your responsibility to register as a matter of urgency. It is easy to register and supply your information online so you comply with the regulations."
Businesses are classed as a battery producer under the regulations if they put batteries on the UK market for the first time. This might be because they manufacture batteries, import batteries or products containing batteries, or in any other way sell batteries on the UK market for the first time. Generally, businesses would not be classed as a battery producer if they buy batteries from another UK supplier.
To help businesses prepare for the new regulations, the Environment Agency has worked closely with industry, trade associations, the waste management industry and trade media. Guidance and updates for business have been published on the Environment Agency’s and Netregs’s websites. Leaflets and regular information bulletins have also been issued.
To find out if you are a producer, what type of batteries are included in the rules, whether you are a small or large producer, how to register as a producer and other things you may need to do to comply with the regulations, visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk/batteries.