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Battery recycling

Environment Agency approves the UK’s first recycling plant for household batteries
Battery recycling

The UK’s first full-scale household battery recycling facility has been opened following approval from the Environment Agency (EA).

The £2 million state-of-the-art facility in Elland, West Yorkshire has processing capacity for 25,000 tonnes of household batteries annually.

This means it can recycle all the UK’s spent alkaline and zinc carbon batteries, so they won’t need to be shipped to mainland Europe for treatment.

80% of UK batteries

Alkaline and zinc carbon batteries account for around 80% of those sold in the UK including common varieties such as AAs, AAAs, Cs and Ds.

The fully automated facility, developed by specialist waste management firm WasteCare, receives mixed consumer batteries from collection points throughout the UK.

An innovative sorting process then separates them by size and chemistry. The alkaline and zinc carbon batteries enter a sealed processing unit which boasts specially designed filtration and environmental monitoring systems.

The batteries are pulverised before moving on to a multi-staged separation and extraction process. This allows the component materials to be separated so they can be reused by manufacturers as secondary raw materials.

‘We are proud to have delivered this world-class facility which has the capability to treat all of the UK’s alkaline batteries. It represents the first phase of our ambitious investment programme – to develop UK-based recycling solutions for other battery chemistries to meet the projected demand in the UK.

‘We are already at an advanced stage in developing a downstream process that will allow raw materials to be reused directly in battery manufacturing and this plant should be operational towards the end of 2021.’

Chief operating officer of the WasteCare Group

Recovery and recycling

Having recycled batteries through a small-scale pilot plant since 2017, WasteCare has been able to develop and introduce a number of technological improvements that ensure this full-scale plant delivers recycling and recovery rates greater than any other battery recycling facility around the world.

WasteCare is now the UK’s largest collector of household batteries making over 50,000 collections per annum from major retailers, businesses and schools.

The company has been at the forefront of educational and awareness campaigns since the Batteries & Accumulators Regulations came into force in 2010 and has played an integral part in increasing the UK’s consumer battery collection rate from 3% to 45% over the past decade.

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