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Battery disposal laws

06 October 2009

Very few oil and gas businesses seem to know about new laws that restrict the disposal of rechargeable batteries when they finally expire. And now industry is becoming ever more reliant on wireless devices, battery powered equipment is more common in the hazardous area. Portable equipment such as power tools, laptops and torches are also powered by rechargeable batteries, which have a finite life and will eventually have to be replaced and therefore disposed of.

The way around the battery disposal laws
The way around the battery disposal laws

Fortunately, there is a simple remedy.

New regulations, which apply to every business in the UK, came into force four months ago. It is now a legal requirement that batteries are segregated from general waste and recycled. The problem is that barely anyone knows these laws exist.

The law even provides a solution to the problem of recycling, as by 2012 it will force battery manufacturers to collect 25% of the batteries they put on the market.

There will come a point in the next few years where these manufacturers will become desperate to get batteries back from businesses. But there is an easy way for businesses to instantly comply with the new laws.

Consultant Simon de Grey, of leading environmental and health and safety training company Pivotal Performance and a professional member of the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment, believes that as many as 90% of businesses are breaking the law by putting their old batteries in the bin when they should be recycled.

But from February next year waste batteries should be returned to the producer or seller – so long as that organisation produces more than 32kg of batteries a year. And according to de Gray, waste can be stored for up to 12 months at your business premises without the need for an environmental permit.

So the simple remedy is that users hold onto any waste batteries until next February when they can be returned to the seller and disposed of legally.

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