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Batteries: Recycling

Volume 496: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the percentage of batteries were recycled in each year since 1997; (286351)

(2) how many (a) car batteries and (b) alkaline batteries were purchased in the latest period for which figures are available; and how many such batteries were (i) disposed of by (A) landfill, (B) incineration and (C) other means were (ii) recycled and (iii) reused in the last year for which figures are available;

(3) how many spent batteries other than vehicle batteries entered the waste stream in the last 12 months; what mass of each heavy metal was used in those batteries; and what percentage of such batteries were recycled.

This information has not been collected centrally in the past. The new Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations (SI 890/2009) will provide such data in the future. Our best estimates for the quantity of batteries on the UK market and recycled are contained in the Impact Assessment published with the Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009:

We estimate that the annual UK market for. portable batteries is around 30,000 tonnes. Market reports suggest that more than 70 per cent. of retail sales are alkaline batteries. Only about 3 per cent. of waste portable batteries are thought to be recycled currently.

The most recent estimate of the car batteries market is that about 131,000 tonnes of car batteries were placed on the market in 2006. This is thought to be rising annually.

About 143,000 tonnes of waste arise from car batteries annually. About 60 per cent. of a lead-acid battery—the type typically used in cars—is lead. We estimate that about 99 per cent. of this is recycled annually.

The amount of industrial batteries sold in the UK in 2006 is estimated to be about 69,000 tonnes.

About 34,000 tonnes of waste arises from industrial batteries annually and it is estimated that about 32,000 tonnes are recycled. We do not have estimates of the amount of heavy metals in industrial or portable batteries.

Few if any batteries will be reused when they become waste because common practice is to dispose of batteries when they are spent.