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Batteries and co-mingled collections don’t mix.


The Campaign for Real Recycling welcomes the collection of domestic batteries as an additional material that will encourage recycling and particiaption rates but fears batteries could cause serious contamination problems to other dry recyclates if not separated properly.

Combining battery collection with co-mingled systems is likely to result in batteries not being properly separated and ending up seriously contaminating other recyclate streams, particularly metals, or becoming part of the non-recyclable reject stream emerging from MRFs. This significantly increases the chances of batteries ending up in landfill or being incinerated, directly contravening Article 12 of the Batteries Directive (2006).

“Co-mingled collection systems are not versatile enough to handle further domestic stream items that require separate or special handling,” said Andy Moore of the CRR. “Source separating systems, by contrast, can handle an almost unlimited variety of materials. Batteries are yet another test of this.”

Commenting on the results of the recent WRAP trials for battery collection systems, Andy Moore continued: “Where collections were made by kerbside sorted methods into a box, some householders would put the batteries into the box directly when their supply of battery bags was exhausted. This is not ideal but at least kerbside operatives wearing appropriate gloves had the chance to pick out the batteries at an early stage in the process.

“Other trials had a separate battery bag attached to a co-mingled wheelie bin handle. If the supply of battery bags runs out, well-intentioned householders are likely to place the batteries directly into the wheelie bin along with all the other materials that they know can be recycled. In our view this is a major system flaw, as this would make it highly unlikely that the operative would identify or recover the batteries before they are tipped into the compacter collection vehicle. The batteries will be squashed and further concealed in other materials or even broken open, compounding the contamination problems facing the MRF operations. Domestic batteries are already classified as a hazardous waste under the 2005 Hazardous Waste regulations and simply passing through a MRF must not be seen as treatment.”

Collection of domestic battieries in sealed bags in a kerbside separated system is the best option for recovering domestic batteries.

The DBERR/Defra consultation on the Implementation of the Batteries and Accumulators and Waste Batteries and Accumulators Directive (2006/66/EC) in England closes on Wednesday (13th March).

Further information on the Campaign for Real Recycling can be found at


Notes for editors:

1. Defra consultation documents on battery recycling can be found through this link.

2. The Campaign for Real Recycling wants central government and local authorities to act urgently to improve the quality of materials collected for recycling in the UK. Real recycling is about maximising the economic, environmental and social benefits of recycling for everyone, from the local council tax payer to the global re-processing industry. Our concern is that collection systems that gather a range of different materials in one bag or bin and then compact them could permanently undermine the environmental and financial benefits of recycling. Our campaign aims to influence local authority policy and practice, and build consensus within the UK of the economic and environmental importance of highly separated collections.

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