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Govt inserts battery take-back scheme

Battery sellers must collect them

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Can't decide what to do with all those old batteries you've got lying around? Got a box full of them? Or have you simply been binning them as they've run out? Properly disposing of flat AAAs, AAs,Cs, Ds and 9Vs should now be a more easy process thanks to legislation which came into force this month.

The new law, part of the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations introduced in May 2009, forces any retailer who sells more than 32kg of batteries a year - that's 1400 AA batteries in total, or one four-pack of AAs a day - to collect unwanted power cells for recycling.

Retailers affected by the law must take back any battery, free of charge, whether they sold it to you or not.

Many local authorities already take old batteries for recycling, but not always among their usual house-to-house collections of material that can be recycled.

Many consumers find it easier to keep batteries or simply chuck them into the rubbish rather than travel to council tips - or 'recycling centres', as they're euphemistically called these days.

The new rules should make it much easier for consumers to get rid of old batteries by dropping them off at collection points in high street shops.

And about time too. Research from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) suggests that while Brits love their gadgets, they're not so hot on recycling.

Your typical British male owns 12 battery operated devices, but 63 per cent of men simply bin flat power packs, almost all of which will end up in landfill.

Defra found that younger gadget users tend to have a better record on recycling than older folk, but with 43 per cent of men saying they need new batteries on a monthly basis, that's still a heck of a lot of power cells destined for the bin.

The Government offers guidance for battery users here.

The Europe-wide Batteries Directive, put in place in 2006, calls for a quarter of all batteries to be recycled by 2012, rising to 45 per cent by 2016. ®

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