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Battery recycling was imposed on retailers and the industry by a directive of the European Union and brought about in the UK by the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations. Since 1st February 2010 retailers selling more than 32kg of batteries per year are required to offer a recycling service.
Steve’s letter to his MP
I was concerned to hear about the fire at the battery recycling facility of Loddon Recycling at Lasham in Hampshire. You may recall that I wrote to you about the problems that I envisaged in storing used batteries at my shop as required under the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations in April last year.
The DEFRA advisory note on waste portable batteries indicates that there is a risk of fire and chemical leak in the guidance on risk assessment. Even in the up to 30 kg of used batteries that are deposited in our container between the scheme collections there can be issues. I think that I only need to mention lithium batteries and their potential hazard to make my point.
With this second major incident at a battery recycling plan is it time to suspend the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations until all safety issues are fully investigated and understood? This will ensure that all the people from retailers like my wife and I to the neighbours of the recycling plans can be kept safe.
This is the second fire at a battery recycling depot and it raises questions over the battery compliance schemes in the UK, as the industry’s ability to deliver battery recycling in a safe manner. This is likely to affect retailers as there is only a small number of recycling plants in the UK.
As the system clogs up, I wonder if the battery collection services will suffer? We will see, if they do and have to hold more batteries on site it will certainly increase our risk.
This week alone my customers have left a Lithium-ion laptop battery, a large 6 volt lantern battery in our recycling container. As we assess them all as having a higher risk factor than the more common 1.5 volt batteries such as the AA, we remove them for safer storage until the next collection.
As Parliament resumes today, I have emailed my MP, Nick Herbert to raise my concerns.
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