Survey: Half of people in UK fail to recycle batteries

Nearly half of people in the UK have never recycled a household battery, despite the introduction last year of EU legislation requiring the UK to drastically increase battery recycling rates.

That is the conclusion of a new YouGov survey of more than 2,000 people commissioned by waste electrical recycling scheme European Recycling Platform (ERP), which found that 49 per cent have never handed in batteries for recycling.

In addition, the survey found that 45 per cent of respondents claim to not know where to take batteries for recycling. This is despite the rollout of thousands of recycling collection points around the country, and the requirement under EU law that any outlet that sells batteries is legally required to collect batteries for recycling, if they on average sell more than one four-pack of AA batteries a day.

ERP said the lack of awareness of collection points raises serious questions over whether the UK can meet legally binding EU targets to ensure 25 per cent of batteries are safely recycled by 2012 and 45 per cent are recycled by 2016, particularly given the most recent government figures show that only two per cent of batteries were recycled last year. If the UK fails to meet the targets, it could be subjected to EU fines.

Scott Butler, general manager of ERP, urged people to make the effort to find their local battery recycling collection point and hand in old batteries, many of which are made of valuable metals such as nickel, cadmium, lead and mercury that are harmful to the environment if sent straight to landfill.

“We want people to make their new year a bit greener by recycling batteries instead of throwing them in the bin,” he said. “We’re going to need everyone’s help if the UK is to meet its challenging target of recycling a quarter of all batteries by 2012. Wherever you live, there’s a local collection point near you. So don’t bin them – find out where your nearest battery box is and recycle them.”

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