New rules and regulations for battery recycling

May 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm

What happens to all those thousands of batteries when they have used up every last dribble of power? When you’ve twisted them around in the remote control more times than you can remember where do they finally go to die? At the moment the news isn’t good for the environment, as it’s the poor old landfills that get nearly all household batteries in the UK – which are the AAs and the mobile phone batteries. Very few are recycled at present. Thankfully that isn’t the same for the huge car batteries that are nearly all recycled.

As of this month though a brand new set of regulations has been outlined by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) called the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009. It might not sound like the most interesting of reports to look through but it’s going to shake up the world of batteries and their unnecessary and toxic disposal.

All companies producing batteries of any kind must now sign up and declare themselves an official manufacturer. They must give an accurate account of their plans for recycling and report back to DEFRA on their measures to maintain the standards expected of them.

A Battery Compliance Scheme has also been set up, which will make the manufacturers inform their customers how and where to recycle their products appropriately. The goal is to get the rate of portable batteries recycled up to around 45% before 2016. This is a huge jump from what it is now though and it’s not too clear when any of us will start to notice the difference or be told of how to change our ways. As early as 2010 many retailers will have to accept responsibility for used batteries and will be taking back the empties, as it were. It might be worth starting to think before you throw the old batteries away from now on.

BatteryBack is the official recycling scheme for the new battery regulations. From the 1st January 2010 BatteryBack will provide FREE nationwide battery collection and recycling.

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Nuclear recycling plant a waste of money

May 15, 2009 at 4:10 pm

There has been widespread condemnation of the Mox (Mixed-oxide) nuclear plant at Sellafield after it was revealed that the plant has become a huge white elephant costing the taxpayer billions.

The plant was constructed with the promise of converting unusable nuclear waste into a usable fuel, with the promise of delivering 120 tonnes of fuel a year. It sounded like a perfect way to help to deliver upon the country’s greenhouse gas targets, as nuclear fuel is expected to play a large role in that.

If running properly, the plant was to have generated a profit of £200 million throughout its lifetime, even though there were concerns voiced about its cost when it was built.

However, the reality has just been exposed, and it is not pretty. After seven years of operating, the plant has managed to produce just 6.3 tonnes of fuel, well below what was required. And on top of that, the costs have been astronomical. £626 million has been spent in operating costs alone, and £637 million extra has been spent on construction and commission costs.

This is all very bad news indeed for the government, not just because it does not go any way towards helping their green house gas emission targets, but because there are now calls for a public enquiry, and the word ‘scandal’ is not far from many people’s lips.

Michael Meacher is a Labour MP who was against the plant from the start, and even tried to block its approval while he was the Environment Secretary. He is quoted in The Independent as saying it is an “unforgivable” waste of taxpayers’ money.

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Budget introduces £2000 metal scrappage scheme

May 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm

In his budget last week Chancellor Alistair Darling introduced a scheme welcomed by the scrap metal sector whereby motorists will receive a £2000 discount when they trade in a vehicle over 10 years old for a new one.

The scheme applies not only to cars but also to commercial vans of up to 3.5 tonnes. The £2000 on offer will consist of £1000 from the government and £1000 from the motor manufacturer.

It is hoped that the initiative will assist the flagging automotive industry which has suffered badly from falling sales due to the recession, the scrap metal industry which is experiencing a reduction in volume, the motorists who are having to tighten their belts and of course the environment which will benefit from getting the heavily polluting older cars off the road.

Dealers will be responsible for the paperwork involved in administering the scheme and for organising the scrapping of the old vehicles.

As with any scheme which the government introduces there are of course critics. There is, for instance, concern within the scrappage industry that dealers who are not members of Autogreen and Cartakeback will be discriminated against and environmentalists have also waded in saying that there is life left in many 10 year old cars and so to scrap them is just pouring money down the drain.

Motorists themselves are anxious that the motor industry will try to claw back their contribution by reducing the discount which can normally be negotiated by the purchaser. In addition, the old car needs to have a current MOT certificate which could well be a deal breaker for many.

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Recycling business loses out to recession

May 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm

The global recession has had a huge effect on many industries, but one of the hardest hit has been the waste industry. Before the economic crisis, waste was a huge business. Thousands of tonnes of waste to be recycled were shipped off to China, and the UK recycling sector was booming. Now, demand has dropped massively, leading to a huge reduction in the value of waste, and businesses are starting to suffer.

The plight of recycling companies has just been made even more clear by the collapse of Greencycle, a recycling company based in Durham. The company experienced a huge drop in demand from its main customers abroad, and as a result was forced to try to renegotiate its contracts with the council, who rejected the new offer. Eventually the company has gone bust, and when it went into administration it owed £1 million to the banks and £1.2 million in taxes.

The council is now faced with the huge dilemma of what to do with all the rubbish. It cannot simply dump it into landfill, as this would incur hefty fines from the government, which has strict targets for the amount of material that is to be recycled. Its aim is to recycle 50% of all waste by 2020, but at the moment the figure is only 34%.

However, Durham County Council has promised that the material will still go to be recycled as it would have done originally, although there will be some delays expected. The Council has even announced that it is now hiring a large number of Greencycle employees.

However, in these uncertain times for the waste industry, the fear is that many more recycling companies are going to face a similar fate in the near future, so we can expect to hear more bad news soon.

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In-store recycling scheme comes to Tesco

May 1, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Tesco is now leading the way with its recycling services, and has just come up with a new scheme which could affect the way it packages food in the future. The new trial scheme is to take place at two supermarkets, the Tesco Extra stores in Ilminster and Guildford, as part of a six-week trial.

The idea is for customers to leave behind any packaging that they do not want or that they think is a waste which will then be sent for recycling. This is to make the process of recycling easier for customers, as it involves less work on their part, and as a result of the trial it could become more widespread at other Tesco stores in the future.

Tesco is currently leading the field when it comes to recycling in supermarkets. It has stated that it has 3,500 projects up and running at the moment to reduce waste, and has also claimed to have diverted 87% of its waste from landfill. It is hoped that this latest scheme will add to that record.

On top of allowing customers to recycle more easily, the secondary aim is to help Tesco work out how much packaging is required for certain products. If shoppers continuously reject certain packaging then this could lead to changes by the store to prevent manufacturers from using so much in the first place.

However, there will be a limit to how much packaging can be got rid of. Certain packaging has information on ingredients and other important advice, and shoppers will not be able to do without this.

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