Don’t bin your batteries this Christmas! A Guide from East Riding of Yorkshire Council
East Riding of Yorkshire Council has been sending me a series of articles this year to help local families understand their waste and recycling better. So far we’ve covered baby waste, in particularly putting nappies in the right bin (you can read that here), reusing and recycling clothing and textiles (you can read that here) and disposing of plastics correctly (you can read that here).
In this next article we look at how to dispose of batteries and electrical items
With Christmas on the way this is something we will end up with lots of as a family!
Lots of the Christmas gifts we buy for our family require batteries and we buy lots at Christmas, but when the batteries run out what should you do with them?
Each year in the UK we throw away over 600 million batteries (source: recycle-more.co.uk). Batteries (and lightbulbs, interestingly) are classed as Hazardous Waste due to the toxic metals inside (and the gases in lightbulbs), therefore they have to be dealt with & collected by licensed hazardous waste contractors – East Riding of Yorkshire Council are not a licensed hazardous waste carrier so can’t carry/collect such items from any of the domestic bins. Batteries can cause fires on bin lorries and also at recycling plants, as batteries can spark if they come into contact with vehicle or compactor. This is obviously a huge issue for the bin collection crews as any spark could set fire to the waste in the back of the lorry – and even the lorry itself.
So where can you take your old batteries to ensure they are disposed of correctly?
Batteries and lightbulbs can be taken to any of the 10 Household Waste Recycling Sites (tips) across the East Riding, where there are separate containers to collect them in. All batteries are accepted here including hearing aid batteries, mobile phone batteries, ipad/pod/tablet batteries, laptop batteries and even car batteries.
Normal AA/AAA/C6/D batteries (which are used in children’s toys, clocks etc) can also be taken to collection boxes at supermarkets and shops. Shops and businesses must offer free collection (‘takeback’) of waste or used batteries, if they sell or supply 32kg or more of portable batteries per year (source: www.gov.uk). Locally I’ve always taken mine to Boots or Morrisons but all supermarkets take them. To find your nearest location to recycle batteries just visit the website www.bringbackheavymetal.co.uk/drop-off and type in your town or postcode.
Or try to buy a battery charger and use rechargeable batteries instead, therefore reducing the number of batteries being thrown away/recycled and reducing costs.
#So please ‘Don’t Bin Your Batteries’! They should either be deposited in the appropriate ‘take back’ scheme boxes at local shops & supermarkets (if you can’t find the receptacle, ask at the Customer Services) or at the 10 Household Waste Recycling Sites (tips) across East Riding of Yorkshire. Find your nearest HWRS site (tip) here.
Recycling batteries helps the environment as it prevents pollution. The heavy metals inside batteries, such as zinc, mercury, silver, nickel and lead, can be removed and reused. Silver recovered from recycling batteries can even be used to make jewellery.
Another item we buy a lot of at Christmas time for family gifts is new electrical items, often to replace old ones. What should you do with the old electrical items?
Electrical goods are the fastest growing waste stream in the UK, growing by 5% each year. Every year an estimated 2 million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic items are discarded by householders and companies in the UK (source: HSE). All unwanted electrical equipment can be taken to the Household Waste Recycling Sites (tips).
Small electricals are classed as anything that uses a battery or a plug for electricity. TV’s, hoovers, microwaves are included in this but not larger electricals such as fridges etc (if it’s easily carried by 1 person it’s small enough to be classed as a small electrical). Small electrical items include children’s electronic toys and all electronic gadgets such as tablets, ipads/pods, mobile phones, Alexa/Amazon dots, internet routers, DVD players, MP3 players – all the children and teenage gadgets that might be replaced at Christmas.
Small electricals cannot be recycled through the recycling bin (blue bin for East Riding residents). Please take yours to your nearest Household Waste Recycling Site. All 10 Household Waste Recycling Sites in the East Riding of Yorkshire have a specific container for small electricals in order to recycle every last piece of waste material as possible from these items so please take your old items there.
If you do not have your own transport to a site, East Riding of Yorkshire Council offer a ‘bulky item’ collection; this costs around £31 for up to 5 items and £62 for 6-10 items – these can include electricals as well as furniture. The items have to be collected from one address and through one single payment made, but ask your neighbours if they want to add an item each and share the cost, which will make it much cheaper. ‘Bulky item collections’ can be ordered by residents either online at www.eastriding.gov.uk/bins or through the customer service centres on (01482) 393939.
If using adverts (often seen on social media) offering waste clearance, please ask them for their waste carriers licence to show they are legally transporting, and disposing correctly, of waste. If they can’t produce this document they may not be legally licensed to collect or carry away items.
If the electrical item is still in working order, just not wanted or needed anymore, why not pass it on for re-use rather than throwing away. Nearly 25% of waste electrical and electronic equipment that is taken to household waste recycling sites by residents are still in working order and could be re-used, worth around £200m gross a year (source: WRAP). All 10 Household Waste Recycling Sites also collect small electrical items which are still in good working order, which get passed on to the Dove House Hospice charity shop at the Humberfield site, Hessle, for sale in the charity shop, raising money for a worthy local cause.