Guidance

Regulations: waste batteries

Guidance for manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers.

Overview

In the United Kingdom (UK) batteries and accumulators are regulated to help protect the environment through the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009 (as amended) – the underpinning legislation:

  • making it compulsory to collect/take back and recycle batteries and accumulators
  • preventing batteries and accumulators from being incinerated or dumped in landfill sites

What is covered

Automotive battery

An automotive battery is of any size or weight and used for one of the following:

  • starting or as ignition power in a road vehicle engine
  • to power lighting in a road vehicle

Industrial battery

An industrial battery or battery pack is of any size or weight, with one of the following characteristics:

  • designed exclusively for industrial or professional uses
  • used as a source of power for propulsion in an electric vehicle or a ‘hybrid’ vehicle
  • unsealed but not an automotive battery
  • sealed but not a portable battery

Portable battery

A portable battery or battery pack:

  • is sealed
  • is not an automotive or industrial battery
  • can be hand-carried by an average natural person without difficulty

Read guidance on the classification of portable and industrial batteries from the Environment Agency, DEFRA and OPSS

Extent of obligation

The manufacturer or importer that first places batteries on the UK market – including those in products – is classed as the producer and is therefore responsible for compliance if the business has a UK presence. This provision extends to overseas companies that are or should be registered with Companies House.

The only exception is the collection of portable batteries - UK distributors and retailers that sell or supply more than 32 kg of batteries a year must provide a take back service.

How to comply

The specific obligations in relation to waste batteries depend on their type, but all require registration with the appropriate environmental regulator via the National Packaging Waste Database.

Producers – manufacturers and importers – must record the tonnage and chemistry of the batteries they place on the market and provide this information annually via the National Packaging Waste Database.

In addition:

  • producers of automotive batteries must collect waste automotive batteries for free from their final holders, such as garages and scrapyards
  • producers of industrial batteries must take back waste industrial batteries for free from end users, if they supply them with new batteries and in certain other circumstances
  • producers of portable batteries that place more than 1 tonne a year on the market must join a Battery Compliance Scheme (BCS), which handles the registration process for them

The guiding principles of the various arrangements are that all waste batteries are processed by an Approved Battery Treatment Operator (ABTO) or an Approved Battery Exporter (ABE) and that producers pay for their collection, treatment and recycling.

Finally, distributors and retailers that sell or supply more than 32 kg of batteries a year must participate in the take back scheme. This involves providing a free collection point for waste portable batteries at their premises and arranging their transport to an ABTO or ABE, usually through a BCS.

The role of the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS)

OPSS has been appointed by Defra to enforce the regulations in the UK in relation to the:

  • compliance of producers of automotive and industrial batteries
  • take back scheme for distributors and retailers

Other aspects of the regulations are enforced by the Environment Agency and its equivalents in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Where to find out more

Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009

Waste batteries: wider battery producer responsibilities

Waste batteries: portable battery distributor and retailer responsibility

Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008

Regulations: batteries and accumulators

National Packaging Waste Database

Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about compliance or wish to contact us regarding suspected non-compliance we recommend that you complete the online enquiry form, choose the relevant legislation and follow the on screen instructions.

Alternatively you can contact our helpdesk on 0121 345 1201.

Or in writing to:

Office for Product Safety and Standards
4th Floor Cannon House
18 The Priory Queensway
Birmingham
B4 6BS
United Kingdom

Subscribe to our free email alert service to keep up to date on the latest developments concerning the legislation that OPSS enforces.

Published 8 March 2017
Last updated 1 January 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated at the end of the transition period to reflect minor amendments to the regulations, which do not impact on how to comply.

  2. EU Exit Update

  3. First published.