EPBA has been instrumental in setting up collection and recycling systems

 The industry’s responsibility to collect spent batteries

Since the mid-nineties, EPBA has gained a wealth of expertise in setting up and working with national waste battery collection and recycling organisations (CROs) to help our members meet their producer responsibility obligations.

The purpose of CROs is to provide appropriate, effective and cost-efficient solutions to fulfil legal requirements for collection and recycling of spent portable primary and rechargeable batteries. In several countries, producers have a choice of CROs.

Essentially, CROs are funded by battery producers at national level and deal with all the practical elements related to producer responsibility obligations, such as collection, sorting, treatment, recycling, consumer communications and completion of reports submitted to national authorities on behalf of members.

Subsequent to the Battery Directive 2006/66/EC, compliance organisations were set up in  all member states. An important recent development is that in most countries, multiple and competing schemes are up and running.

In 2007, EPBA and RECHARGE (the European industry association for advanced rechargeable and lithium batteries) developed a compliance blueprint for the creation of such organisations, which can be accessed here.

Active involvement in developing recycling technologies

In order to obtain an efficient recycling, the collected batteries, which are a mixture of different chemical systems, needed to be sorted according to their individual chemistry. EPBA therefore designed and developed an automatic, high-speed battery sorting machine to reliably sort spent batteries into their different chemical types. This sorting machine is still being used by Bebat – the Belgian collection scheme.

Extensive trials undertaken by EPBA in a number of European facilities showed that alkaline  manganese and zinc carbon batteries could be successfully recycled within the existing infrastructure of the metals industry to recover zinc, manganese and steel fractions of batteries, as well as carbon as energy or reagent in smelting processes. We were also able to identify specific recycling processes for other chemical compositions of portable batteries sold in Europe, such as nickel-cadmium (NiCd), nickelmetal hydride (NiMH) and lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable batteries, silver oxide and other button cells, and lead-containing batteries.