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UK Introduces Change to Portable Battery Classification

The way that manufacturers and recyclers classify portable batteries has now changed, with the introduction of a threshold for batteries below 4kg.

Following a Defra consultation on proposed changes to the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009, the guidance on waste batteries and accumulators was revised on 1 January 2016.

The new guidelines, which will bring the UK in-line with other EU Member States, state that: “From 1 January 2016 any battery over 4 kg will be classed as industrial. Batteries below 4 kg may still be classed as industrial if they are designed exclusively for professional or industrial use.”

In the UK, batteries were previously classified as portable if they were sealed, could be carried by hand without difficulty, and were neither for automotive nor industrial use. It is thought that incorrect classification of lead-acid batteries was previously skewing data on the number of portable batteries collected for recycling, with battery recyclers claiming that as they were often unaware of the original use of some lead-acid batteries, it was impossible to determine if they fell into the industrial or portable classification.

According to Defra, 83% of the UK’s battery recycling obligation in 2012 was met through the collection of lead-acid batteries, despite them making up just 8% of the new batteries placed onto the market. Before the redefinition, between 3,500 and 6,900 tonnes of lead-acid batteries between 4kg and 10kg a year were being counted as ‘portable’ for producer compliance schemes.

Defra has previously said that, as a result of the changes, from 2016, the cost of collecting and processing waste portable batteries is expected to rise to £1,400 per tonne. These increased costs are expected to be carried by battery producers through the producer compliance system.

With the introduction of this new definition, producers will have to increase the amount of non-lead household batteries collected. Under the Batteries Directive, 45% of portable batteries must be collected by 2016.

Clarity collects and recycles scrap vehicle batteries, providing a professional and efficient vehicle battery trading service with excellent market rates and free, prompt and reliable collections of scrap lead-acid batteries across the UK. If you want to sell scrap vehicle batteries, contact a member of our team to find out more or request a call-back.

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