The UK is under pressure to improve the recycling rate for batteries. According to what is being said in various publications we only recycle 3% at present. In an effort to get our recycling rate up to 10% all shops selling batteries will have to provide recycling facilities. This is all well and good but there are numerous issues, to start with a 10% rate is pathetically unambitious. If this is as important an issue as they would have us believe then why such an low figure? why not go for 50% and then ramp it up from there? Then there is the issue that a small corner shop that sells a handful of batteries a week needs to find somewhere to store potentially dangerous used batteries, which could easily cause a fire or leak noxious chemicals.
Although I am keen that we recycle as much as makes sense I have problems with the system we have set up at the moment because it is a joke. My wife's employer is forced by the local council to separate all there wastes in to separate receptacles, for plastics, glass, metals, paper, cardboard, food and garden waste. If they cross contaminate by someone maybe putting a newspaper in the food bin they are fined. Strangely when the waste is collected it is all put into the same refuse wagon and the carefully sorted waste is mixed up. When the collection agency is tackled about it they tell us there is no facility for recycling in the area. Then there is the garden waste issue. Although tons of garden waste is generated on the estate it is all composted on site yet they are still charged by the council for a facility they do not use, because of the size of the estate this is a considerable cost. They are also forced to pay for a licence to dispose of toxic waste, the toxic waste disposed of in the last three years amounted to one fluorescent tube from the kitchens, but they are still paying the same licence fee that some generating hundreds of tonnes of waste would.
So if you want to sell batteries you need to provide recycling facilities and if you provide recycling facilities you will require a licence for toxic waste and pay to have that waste removed. The net result is once shop keepers get wind of this that buying batteries will become difficult and expensive as the pass the costs on to the consumer.
The whole idea is flawed; if you are going to buy some new batteries, who takes the old ones with them? Who waits until the old ones are flat before buying new ones? The answer to reducing battery waste as I see it is to force manufacturers to only produce rechargeable batteries, to make putting batteries in domestic waste a no-no and to collect used cells separately with the domestic collections.