The majority of conversations stimulated by this years’ Recycling Week are inevitably going to centre around plastics as the ‘Blue Planet’ effect continues to have a significant impact on public debate. But we must not forget other household items that can easily be recycled and have a significant environmental impact if thrown in the bin.

Each year the UK gets through 40 million tonnes of portable batteries. Of this amount, we recycle 45% meaning that around 22 million tonnes of batteries are either sitting in our homes or have been dumped into holes in the ground or burnt. Polling from Hubbub discovered that UK households are hoarding 178 million batteries. If you find that number hard to visualise it is the equivalent weight of about 55,000 Ozzy Osbournes!

Less than half of the people Hubbub surveyed realised that batteries are made of valuable heavy metals which can be reused, including lead, mercury, cadmium, zinc, manganese and lithium. These toxic contents can be hazardous if not disposed of properly, yet half of the respondents admitted throwing batteries away in the regular waste bin. This results in millions every year ending up in landfill, with the potential to leach into the ground and water supplies if not carefully managed.

Unlike many other household items, there is not a shortage of collection points for batteries. All major retailers who sell batteries are legally obliged to have battery recycling points – although trying to find them often requires a Sherlock Holmes ability for detective work. Indeed 40% of people surveyed by Hubbub felt that collection points needed higher visibility.

This will be the second year Hubbub has run the #BringBackHeavyMetal campaign designed to encourage people during the month of October to search through kitchen draws, under the stairs or anywhere else that unwanted batteries are discarded and take them along to their nearest collection point. The campaign will be driven by a wide range of social media content including three videos that last year attracted over 15,000 views.


But, getting people to take their batteries for recycling is only half the story. Currently, the UK exports the majority of its batteries for treatment overseas to countries such as Poland, France and Germany. This is due to the lack of recycling facilities on UK soil. To remedy this situation Hubbub is delighted to continue our partnership with Ecosurety who are working with Belmont Trading Ltd to create a recycling plant in Scotland that will have the capacity to deal with around 80% of the UK’s batteries. This new plant will reduce the UK’s waste export bill and build more resilience as the prospect of Brexit looms ever larger. 

Hubbub and Ecosurety hope that #BringBackHeavyMetal will boost the UK’s battery recycling rate and help further publicise the need for more UK recycling facilities. To get involved head to www.bringbackheavymetal.co.uk.

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