Lancashire unveils UK’s largest battery recycling scheme

Lancashire County Council has launched the UK's first large-scale collection and recovery programme for small batteries. G + P Batteries will collect the batteries and use the experience as a trial.

“We’re not anticipating making a profit, but we don’t want to make a loss, either,” Greg Clementson, marketing and development director of G+ P Batteries told edie, acknowledging that the economics of recycling in the UK has yet to become sustainable.

G + P’s core business is battery collection and the company believes the Lancashire programme will teach the council and the company a lot about the viability and logistics of large-scale collection and recovery of household batteries.

In addition to lead acid and nickel cadmium batteries – both ‘recyclable’ to a certain extent – Lancashire residents will be able to dispose of alkaline batteries. Alkaline batteries are not generally recycled, but G + P wants to explore new ways of recovering some ingredients from them. “Once we get a sensible amount of alkaline batteries built up, we’ll see what we can do with them,” says Clementson, citing the potential to recover something from alkaline batteries through steel smelting or through new technologies.

Ingredients from lead acid batteries will be recovered by smelting in the UK, while the nickel cadmium batteries will undergo recovery in a smelter in France.

Collection points are set up where other recycling containers for paper and glass are already located, some of which are located at Booths supermarket outlets. Booths has been a keen supporter of the scheme from the start and Lancashire County Council (LCC) hopes that the high profile collection points will mean that the programme is a success with the public.

Both LCC and G + P acknowledge that the majority of the batteries collected will not be recycled, but they defend this by arguing that at least the batteries will be safely disposed of. “Even if some of the batteries aren’t recyclable, they’ll at least be disposed of properly instead of going to landfill,” an LCC spokesperson told edie.

LCC is the first municipality in the UK to introduce large-scale battery collection and recovery and it believes its experience will be useful to others as EU legislation forces local governments to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. “All eyes are going to be on Lancashire now,” says the LCC spokesperson.

G + P, which is owned by Recycling Services Group, is also working with British Telecom to allow BT staff at 100 different locations to recycle batteries – including those they bring in from home.

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