Batteries and Accumulators: Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009

The UK regulations were first introduced in 2009 as ‘The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009’ (SI 2009 no 890) in England and Wales, which came into force from 5 May 2009. They are supplemented by The Waste Batteries (Scotland) Regulations 2009 (SSI 2009 no 247), which came into force on 6 July 2009; and The Waste Batteries and Accumulators (Treatment and Disposal) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 (SRNI 2009 no 159), which came into force on 20 May 2009. This page details the requirements of the main Regulation, but we are happy to provide information about the additional regional obligations as required – just call us!

The Regulations implement part of an EU Directive that aims to harmonise across Europe the activities of all those involved in the lifecycle of batteries and accumulators, improving environmental performance. Additional measures under the Directive are implemented through the Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations.

Who is obligated?
‘Any persons’ putting batteries, on their own or in ‘appliances or vehicles’, on the market have producer obligations. Anyone supplying end users with batteries, excluding batteries in products, has distributor obligations. Those with producer obligations may also have to comply with WEEE and RoHS requirements.

The law affects all persons who:

Make one tonne or more of portable batteries, on their own or in appliances or vehicles, on the UK market for the first time (Producer activity)

Make less than one tonne of portable batteries, on their own or in appliance or vehicles, on the UK market for the first time (Small Producer activity)

Provide 32Kgs—per site, per annum—of portable batteries (on their own, not in appliances) to end users on a professional basis (Distributor activity)

Provide less than 32Kgs—per site, per annum—of portable batteries (on their own, not in appliances) to end users on a professional basis (Small Distributor activity)

Place industrial batteries, on their own or in appliances or vehicles, on the UK market for the first time (Industrial Producer activity)

Place automotive batteries, on their own or in appliances or vehicles, on the UK market for the first time (Automotive Producer activity)

NOTE: It is possible to have obligations under more than one activity.

All types of batteries, regardless of their shape, size and type and all appliances with batteries in them unless they are in equipment specifically designed to be sent into space or intended specifically for military purposes.

See the key definitions below for more information about battery types.

Obligations vary depending on the type of activity. In outline:

Producers of portable batteries must register with a compliance scheme, provide information about the batteries they place on the market and pay levies to support the recovery and safe disposal of waste batteries. They must meet any obligations under other Regulations.

Small Producers of portable batteries must register direct with the Government and provide information about the batteries they place on the market. They must meet any obligations under other Regulations.

Producers of industrial batteries must provide free take back of waste batteries; advise customers of the take back procedures; ensure safe treatment and disposal of waste batteries taken back; keep records of the batteries placed on the market and the waste batteries taken back; and report this information to the Government annually.

Producers of automotive batteries must provide free collection and/or take back of waste batteries; advise customers of take back/collection procedures; ensure safe treatment and disposal of waste batteries taken back; keep records of the batteries placed on the market and the waste batteries taken back; and report this information to the Government annually.

Distributors of portable batteries must provide free take back of waste portable batteries; inform end users of the take back options available to them; not dispose of the batteries other than to pass them on to a battery compliance scheme.

Small distributors of portable batteries are exempt from Distributor obligations.

See the detailed obligations boxes for more information.

A number of criminal offences are possible, including:

  • Failing to meet finance obligations;
  • Failing to join a compliance scheme if required to do so;
  • Failing to provide accurate information to a compliance scheme;
  • Failing to report on industrial or automotive batteries placed on the market;
  • Failing to report on waste industrial or automotive batteries taken back;
  • Failing to provide a registration number to customers;
  • Failing to keep adequate and correct records;
  • Failing to provide documents or information when required to do so;
  • Providing false or misleading information;
  • Failing to provide free take back if required to do so.

Penalties are currently up to £5,000 per offence with the possibility of unlimited fines and imprisonment for directors/statutory officers in some cases. Battery offences are subject to criminal prosecution as they do not currently fall under the Civil Sanctions regime.

Think your company may be obligated, but not compliant? If your company is obligated but not compliant you are seriously exposed to the risk of prosecution by the enforcement agency. Non-compliance is an offence under criminal law and prosecution carries substantial penalties of fines plus costs, as well as legal fees, adverse publicity and considerable senior management input. We recommend you urgently take expert advice to protect your company.

Let us help you find the most cost effective way of complying with these Regulations.
Contact J Williams & Associates’ Batteries expert on 01491 682850 or email Hazel Lobo for advice

Who enforces the Regulations?

Producer Obligations are enforced by the Environment Agency in England, Natural Resources Wales in Wales, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency in Scotland and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland.

The Vehicle Certification Agency enforce distributor obligations for portable batteries and producer obligations for industrial and automotive batteries. The boxes below provide more details about the key definitions and the obligations related to each activity.

Detailed obligations Note: you may have more than one set of obligations
Producer Obligations (portable batteries)

Those who manufacture or import more than one tonne of portable batteries per annum must:

Join an approved Battery Compliance Scheme;

Tell the scheme each quarter the weight of each type of battery, by battery chemistry, placed on the market by them in the preceding quarter;

Finance, by paying levies charged by the Compliance Scheme, the safe collection, treatment, recovery and disposal of waste batteries in proportion to their market share;

Provide their Battery Registration Number to each customer buying batteries from them;

Keep records of the total tonnage and tonnage by chemistry type of all batteries placed on the market for at least four years.

Small Producer Obligations (portable batteries)

Those who manufacture or import one tonne or less of portable batteries per annum must:

Register as small producers directly with the enforcement authorities;

Pay a registration fee (currently £30) to cover the administration costs of registration;

Tell the enforcement agency (annually) the weight of each type of battery, by battery chemistry, placed on the market by them in the preceding year;

Provide their Battery Registration Number to each customer buying batteries from them;

Keep records of the total tonnage and tonnage by chemistry type of all batteries placed on the market for at least four years.

Distributor Obligations (portable batteries)

At each site selling 32Kgs or more of batteries (on their own, not in appliances), distributors must:

Provide free take back facilities for end users (who have no obligation to buy anything from you to use this facility);

Provide written information about their take back facilities;

Pass collected batteries to a battery compliance scheme;

Not attempt to dispose of collected batteries in any other way.

NOTE: These obligations apply regardless of the selling medium – mail order and internet sellers who meet the 32Kgs per annum threshold must also provide free take back facilities and advertise these to their customers.

Small Distributor Obligations (portable batteries)

Small distributors (less than 32Kgs of portable battery sales per annum) do not have obligations under these Regulations.

Industrial Producer Obligations

Those who manufacture or import industrial batteries must:

Register with the government as a producer of industrial batteries, unless they are already registered as a portable battery producer or small producer;

Declare their producer registration number to all customers buying batteries from them;

Provide free take back, within a reasonable time-frame, when requested to do so by an end-user of industrial batteries;

Publish details of how end-users can request take back, in ‘such a manner as is reasonably likely’ to be seen by end-users;

Ensure that waste batteries taken back are safely treated and disposed of by an approved battery treatment operator or exporter;

Keep records, in tonnes by category and chemistry type, of industrial batteries placed on the market and of waste batteries taken back and retain the records for at least four years;

Provide annual reports of these tonnages to the government.

Automotive Producer Obligations

Those who manufacture or import automotive batteries must:

Register with the government as a producer of automotive batteries, unless they are already registered as a portable battery producer or small producer;

Declare their producer registration number to all customers buying batteries from them;

Provide free collection, within a reasonable time-frame, when requested to do so by a final holder of automotive batteries;

Publish details of how final holders can request take back, in ‘such a manner as is reasonably likely’ to be seen by final holders;

Ensure that waste batteries taken back are safely treated and disposed of by an approved battery treatment operator or exporter;

Keep records, in tonnes by category and chemistry type, of automotive batteries placed on the market and of waste batteries collected and retain the records for at least four years;

Provide annual reports of these tonnages to the government.

Key Definitions
Portable Battery:

Any battery (or battery pack) that is:

Sealed;

Can be ‘readily carried by an average natural person’ (taken to mean not more than 10Kg, and probably 4Kg or less);

Not an automotive or industrial battery.

Button cells are a sub-set of portable batteries and are defined as any small round portable battery whose diameter is greater than its height and which is used for special purposes such as hearing aids, watches, small portable equipment and back up power.

Automotive Battery:

Any battery used as an automotive starter;

Any battery used to power automotive lighting;

Any battery used to power automotive ignition.

NOTE: Automotive batteries covered by the End of Life Vehicles Regulations are not covered by the Placing on the Market Regulations.

Industrial Battery:

Solely for professional use;

Unsealed, but not an automotive battery;

Sealed, but not a portable battery;

Intended for use to power an electric vehicle.

NOTE: button cells cannot be classed as industrial batteries.

Producer:

Any person in the UK who places batteries, including those contained in appliances or vehicles, on the market for the first time on a professional basis.

For the purposes of obligations under these Regulations, any person placing one tonne or less of portable batteries on the market per annum is defined as a Small Producer.

Distributor:

A person that provides batteries on a professional basis to an end-user.

For the purpose of obligations under these Regulations, Small Distributors are those who, per sales site, per annum, sell less than 32Kgs of portable batteries. It is possible therefore for a chain of retailers to have Distributor and Small Distributor obligations.

Category and Chemistry types:

Battery categories are:

Automotive;

Industrial;

Battery chemistries are:

Lead-acid;

Nickel-Cadmium;

Other.

Want to reduce the hassle of compliance? Contact us now for a free initial consultation.