'WEEE for batteries' inbound, though it makes allowances for small businesses

New Environment Agency regulations due for October

The Environment Agency has urged channel businesses to prepare for new regulations that are designed to minimise the impact that discarded batteries have on the environment.

The new regulations – which came out of consultation last month – would affect everyone involved in the manufacturing, distribution and sale of anything encasing batteries; including disposables, rechargeables and those in laptops and other electronics – regardless of whether they are removable or not.

If approved by the Government, the Agency is anticipating the deadline for joining schemes would be October 2009, with a roll out by January 1st 2010. Any business involved in placing batteries into products – including system builders who handle components with batteries already installed – will have to join a Batteries Compliance Scheme.

However, the body is keen to avoid the problems that plagued the implementation of the WEEE directive. Retailers and resellers, with the exception of the smallest – based on Sunday Trading Laws – will have to run take-back schemes.

"In order to tackle consumers directly, retailers of portable batteries will have to run in-store takeback schemes, open to the public and without charge," a spokesperson told PC Retail. "These should see retailers collecting batteries of all types and brands, except automotive or industrial, regardless of whether they were bought in that shop or not."

"Again, small business will not be affected. Businesses that operate in a small shop (as defined in Sunday trading laws as having a floor space of less than 280m) and sell only a small amount of batteries, ie: less than 16kg per year, are likely to be exempt."

According to the Agency’s figures, around 700 million batteries are disposed of every year, but only around three per cent of those are recycled. It is hoping that these regulations will raise that figure to 25 per cent by 2012.

"Ensuring that portable batteries are correctly disposed of and their component parts, such as their metal casings, are reused is good news for the environment," said a spokesman for the Agency."

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