Currys PC World pioneers home collection of used batteries

Currys PC World is set to start collecting end-of-life batteries from customers' homes when it delivers new appliances, as part of a campaign to stop Brits from hoarding used batteries.

The retailer will collect household batteries using a fleet of 365 vans in October, after a recent survey revealed that UK households are holding onto around 178 million used batteries collectively.

During the month-long trial, Currys PC World will assess how the scheme impacts recycling rates, with a view to extending the offering if a sufficient boost is made.

The move forms part of Currys PC World’s partnership with compliance scheme Ecosurety and environmental charity Hubbub under the recycling-focused Bring Back Heavy Metal project.

“We always aim to ensure as many batteries as possible are handed in at Currys PC World for recycling and Bring Back Heavy Metal provides a great focal point for our work in this area,” Dixons Carphone’s compliance and recycling manager Matthew Manning said.

“To be the first retailer to test home battery collections in this way is really exciting for us and our staff are proud to be involved in the campaign. We look forward to playing a key role in making this year’s campaign a real success.”

Launched in 2017, the Bring Back Heavy Metal Campaign scheme has also received support from the likes of Asda, B&Q, Marks & Spencer (M&S), The Entertainer and Morrisons. The retailers have all moved to roll out more in-store battery recycling points, but Currys PC World, which is owned by Dixons Carphone, will be the first company to test home battery collections under the campaign.

All supermarkets and other major battery retailers are obliged to have battery recycling points for customers, but the campaign is striving to encourage retailers to signpost these more clearly to drive behaviour change. It also aims to spur other companies to install them on a voluntary basis.  

Barriers to battery recycling

The UK has continuously struggled to hit the EU Batteries Directive’s 45% target for battery recycling rates, with the figure standing at 44.88% for 2017.

Ecosurety has previously cited a lack of recycling infrastructure as a cause of Britain’s stagnating recycling rates, and is making preparations 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.

Ecosurety’s managing director James Piper also cited a lack of consumer awareness on how to recycle batteries as a key barrier.

“Educating consumers about why and how they can recycle their batteries is critical as we struggle as a nation to reach the recycling target of 45%,” Piper said. “We hope this second edition of the Bring Back Heavy Metal campaign will have a positive effect on battery collection rates.”

Sarah George

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