Why recycle batteries?

Batteries are made from important resources and chemicals, including lead, cadmium, zinc, lithium and mercury. Batteries can be recycled. They are taken apart and many of the materials can be recovered and used to make new batteries or something else. If you put your batteries into a rubbish bin they will be taken to landfill sites and the resources lost.

Recycling batteries is good for the environment. It keeps them out of landfill, where heavy metals may leak into the ground when the battery casing corrodes, causing soil and water pollution. If batteries are incinerated with household waste, the heavy metals in them may cause air pollution. It is absolutely essential that batteries are disposed off correctly and recycled in the appropriate manner.

In 2009, new regulations on the recycling of batteries and accumulators (rechargeable batteries) were introduced. The Batteries Regulations aim to significantly increase UK collection and recycling of used portable batteries from the current rate of about 3% to 25% by 2012, rising to at least 45% in 2016.


These regulations affect distributors of batteries. A distributor is someone who provides batteries on a professional basis to an end-user (consumers and/or business). From 1 February 2010, if you are a distributor who supplies 32kg or more of portable batteries per year in an individual store, or by distance sales (e.g. over the internet, or via mail order), you will have certain obligations, including to take back used batteries from end-users free of charge.

If you are a user, send them back to where you bought them, however, most shops selling batteries and many local authorities will have containers that collect batteries for recycling. Schools, libraries and workplaces will also have containers – look out for the boxes saying “Recycle your batteries here”. From February 2010, distributors of portable batteries must play their part in helping end users to dispose of portable batteries at their end of life.

There are several different types of batteries used in today’s electronics and many from the past. These include: Lithium Polymer, Mercury, Nickel and Silver Oxide. Each of which require different methods of disposal.

Certain batteries would be classified as hazardous waste and must be disposed using a company who has the licences to move, store and treat hazardous waste.

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