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Batteries: Waste Disposal

Volume 488: debated on Monday 2 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effects on the environment of the disposal of batteries. (259329)

Disposing of portable batteries and accumulators can have a detrimental impact on the environment and on public and animal health. Some batteries contain hazardous substances such as cadmium, mercury and lead. Batteries disposed of incorrectly can lead to such heavy metals leaking into the ground, causing soil and water pollution and endangering wildlife

Further impacts may arise indirectly from the disposal of batteries, as they contain a range of metals that can be re-used. Disposing of such materials in landfill means that more resources have to be used to mine new metals.

The UK is currently transposing the EU Directive on Batteries and Accumulators, which aims to reduce the negative environmental impact of waste portable batteries. This includes regulations that ban chemicals such as mercury and cadmium (above trace levels) in new batteries. In addition, the UK is working to implement the directive’s requirements that we collect and recycle 25 per cent. of portable batteries by 2012 and 45 per cent. by 2016, which will dramatically reduce the amount going to landfill.