Statistics published by the Environment Agency for the first quarter of 2020 show the UK was on track to meet its targets for the recycling of portable batteries before the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, concerns about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic have been raised by industry figures, as the first quarter only accounted for around a week of the lockdown restrictions.
According to figures published by the Environment Agency on the National Packaging Waste Database on 27 May, a total of 4,188 tonnes of batteries were collected in the UK in the first quarter of 2020 (between January and March).
This is against a target of 16,090 tonnes for 2020, meaning the first quarter recycling figures stand at around 26% of the overall target.
Industry members expressed fears to letsrecycle.com that the coronavirus-enforced lockdown may hit the collection rate of batteries in the second quarter of 2020.
“The timing of the lockdown means that we expected very little impact to be visible in Q1 data”
John Redmayne, managing director of the European Recycling Platform (ERP) compliance scheme, said: “The timing of the lockdown means that we expected very little impact to be visible in Q1 data. Q2 data will be the useful data set and will demonstrate the impact of COVID-19 in detail, I suspect.”
These sentiments were echoed by David Reynolds, managing director of waste battery collection company ECOBAT Logistics UK. He told letsrecycle.com: “The Q1 2020 data is in line with Q1 2019. Waste batteries collected in Q2 2020 are likely to be much lower due to the lack of economic activity.”
In May, senior figures in the waste electronic and electrical equipment sector also warned lockdown restrictions were expected to have a significant impact on the tonnages collected in the second quarter of 2020 (see letsrecycle.com story).
However, of the 4,188 tonnes of batteries collected so far in 2020, 2,785 tonnes were lead acid batteries. Concerns remain within the battery recycling sector that the high number of lead acid batteries in the figures masks the fact not enough portable household batteries were collected.
Mr Reynolds added: “Waste lead acid batteries collected for recycling were still at incredible levels compared to the amount placed on the market and continue to make a mockery of the Waste Batteries Regulations.”
Figures published by the Environment Agency in March this year suggested the UK missed its 2019 battery target by 258 tonnes (see letsrecycle.com story).
The data showed the UK collected 17,386 tonnes of batteries in 2019, having targeted 17,644 tonnes. This meant the collection rate for batteries stood at 44.34% in 2019, down from 45.23% in 2018.