Campaign launched to help Brits stop hoarding used batteries

Top retailers including Asda and B&Q have come together to help British people improve battery recycling rates, as a new survey shows that UK households are holding onto around 178 million used batteries.

The poll of more than 3,000 Brits shows that six in 10 stash batteries in their homes. But less than half realise that batteries are made of heavy materials such as lead, mercury, zinc and lithium, which can be reused.

Moreover, just over half admitted to throwing batteries away in the regular waste bin, which results in millions every year ending up in landfill and potentially seeping into the ground and water supplies.

Environmental charity Hubbub and compliance scheme Ecosurety are today (3 October) launching a new campaign to encourage people to recycle batteries.

Major retailers such as Currys PC World, The Entertainer, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Morrisons will all host collection points as part of the Bring Back Heavy Metal project, supported by manufacturer GP Batteries and compliance scheme BatteryBack.

All supermarkets and other major battery retailers are obliged to have battery recycling points for customers, but according to Hubbub co-founder Trewin Restorick, these can often be hard to find. 

“Four in ten people said they’d like better visibility of recycling points,” Restorick said. “The #BringBackHeavyMetal campaign introduces some unmissable and fun reminders in store at participating retailers which we hope will help raise awareness of how important and how easy it is to recycle batteries.”

Battery recycling plant

The UK’s battery collection rate for 2016 was 44.95%, just below a collection rate target of 45%, in line with the EU’s Batteries Directive. To help improve the situation, Ecosurety is set to launch the UK’s first functioning battery recycling plant. The site will be capable of processing up to 20,000 tonnes of batteries a year – more than the country’s entire battery waste.

“We will soon have the facility to recycle batteries in the UK for the first time and we hope that people will be inspired by this campaign to empty their drawers, keep their used batteries out of the regular waste bins and drop them off at a recycling point instead,” Ecosurety’s managing director James Piper said.

Hubbub has previously championed numerous behaviour change campaigns, including the high-profile coffee cup recycling initiative which led to more than 1.2m paper cups being recycled. The charity also focuses on community fridges for perishable food and a forthcoming campaign to improve plastic recycling.

George Ogleby

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie