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Liz Lynne backs battery recycling and recharging campaign at European Parliament

September 28, 2010 6:49 PM
Liz Lynne supporting the RECHARGE campaign to boost battery recycling and recharging at the European Parliament

Liz Lynne supporting the RECHARGE campaign to boost battery recycling and recharging at the European Parliament.

Liberal Democrat Euro MP Liz Lynne hosted a major drive to promote battery recycling and recharging in the European Parliament this week, backed by MEPs from several other parties.

Liz Lynne MEP says Britain's dismal record of recycling just 3% of batteries, compared to Belgium's 59%, is a major reason why she supported the RECHARGE alliance's campaign in Brussels.

An exhibition was held in the European Parliament on Monday and Tuesday this week outlining the huge cost to the environment of throwing away disposable batteries instead of recycling them or switching to rechargeable batteries. Later on Tuesday Liz Lynne hosted a reception with RECHARGE representatives from industry and MEPs from various parties.

The huge carbon footprint and serious metal poisoning risk of dumping old batteries led the EU to introduce a new Battery Directive in 2006. It set a target of 25% of batteries to be recycled by 2012 and 45% by 2016. Belgium and Sweden have recycling rates of 59% and 55% (European Battery Recycling Alliance figures).

Last year Britain lagged in 15th place with just three per cent of batteries recycled, but the latest figures show a big jump in the recycling rate from 9% in the first quarter of 2010 to 16% in the second quarter.

Liz Lynne, first Vice President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, said: "I warmly welcome the RECHARGE campaign to the European Parliament, as do my colleagues from other parties also supporting it. The facts are stark. In Britain alone last year we dumped 97% of 660 million disposable batteries, while rechargeables only had a small share of the market.

"The Battery Directive is now leading to new rules being rolled out in member states but clearly, Britain and most EU nations have a lot of ground to make up. We need to look at what Belgium and Sweden are doing and apply it in our own countries.

"The UK Labour government really dragged their feet, with the Battery Regulations only coming into force in May 2009 and new rules obliging battery retailers to take in old batteries only coming into force this February. Last years recycling figure of 3% was appalling.

"But things are changing. I am delighted with the commitment of the coalition's Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne to pursue a zero waste policy - ultimately that has to be our ambition.

"There has been a big jump in the recycling rate for the last two quarters this year, which is good news. Finally we are waking up, but there is a long way to go.

"I also support the RECHARGE campaigns drive to promote rechargeable technology. Rechargeable batteries have up to 28 times less impact on climate change than disposables, because of the huge impact of transport and other costs. The greenest long term solution is to use rechargeable batteries wherever possible and affordable - the cost will come down as production goes up.

"This is a cross party issue and campaign, with green campaigners and industry representatives working together to change the culture. We all have to get used to the idea, never throw a battery away!"

ENDS

Note: The RECHARGE campaign to promote the recycling and the recharging of batteries has been running for five years. They are a non-profit body backed by electrical companies developing rechargeable technology, an example of industry joining forces with policymakers to encourage a change in behaviour. Many European member states have passed battery and waste management laws. Among those nations are: Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France. Finland and Denmark have supported a total prohibition of battery cadmium. Belgium and Sweden have battery recycling rates of 59% and 55%. In 2009 Members of the European Parliament's environmental committee have backed a 50% collection target for waste portable batteries.