Scotland opens UK's first battery recycling plant

The first battery recycling plant in the UK for Lithium-ion batteries was officially opened by Scottish Enterprise Minister, Jim Wallace, this week.

Having cost around £2 million to build, the Golspie plant aims to set a new world standard for battery recycling. Mr Wallace said that the facility would provide the area with a huge boost:

"With new environmental regulations coming into force next year, battery manufacturers and equipment suppliers will have to take more responsibility for the recycling of batteries. This plant is the first of its kind in Europe, positioning Scotland at the forefront of battery recycling technology and capability."

Campaign group Friends of the Earth (FoE) in Scotland commended the move, branding batteries "an environmental menace". According to FoE Scotland's head of research Dr Dan Barlow, approximately 680 million batteries are dumped every year. Despite containing heavy metals, virtually none of them are recycled, allowing contaminates to leak into the ground and contribute to soil and water pollution.

"While this plant will deal with Lithium-ion batteries only, its opening certainly represents a major step in the right direction for dealing responsibly with everyday waste," Dr Barlow said. "We now look forward to the government coming forward with money to support facilities that will help tackle the millions of other batteries that also need recycling but currently end up being dumped."

The plant was launched by Thurso-based AEA Technology and will create at least 30 high-quality green jobs in the area. Group managing director for AEA, Andrew McCree stated: "We are delighted to be part of positioning Scotland as a world leader in the environmental sector and create green jobs."

Lithium-ion batteries are mainly used in mobile phones, camcorders and laptop computers. Less than 2% of consumer disposable batteries are currently recycled, with the rest being disposed of in landfill sites.

By Jane Kettle



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