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‘Battery pioneer’ Belgium charts recycling behaviour

Belgium – A total of 2758 tons of batteries was amassed by Belgium’s Bebat collection scheme in 2015, it was announced at the latest International Congress for Battery Recycling. ‘This translates to a 55.5% collection rate, meaning that we have already passed the mandatory 45% collection rate the EU set for this year,’ Dr Roeland Bracke told delegates in Antwerp.

‘We may be a small country but our densely-populated nation of 6.5 million inhabitants generates 70 kg of household waste per capita per year,’ said Bracke, who is from the OVAM public waste agency in Flanders. Belgium has around 43 500 collection points for batteries and e-scrap, of which 23 435 are battery collection points managed by Bebat.

Belgium has become ‘a battery pioneer’, Bracke asserted, and is only one of 10 member states that are thought to have met the EU deadline for battery collections.

Take-back results

The average household in Belgium is said to incorporate no less than 129 batteries, roughly 20 of which are spent batteries.

A recent Bebat survey revealed that 53% of Belgians use take-back facilities while 16% admitted to throwing batteries into the refuse bin, with one spent battery found on average in every 100 kg of municipal waste. An estimated 13% of used batteries escape the recycling loop in this way. On average, consumers make three trips to Bebat collection points every year.

Meanwhile, consumer awareness of battery collection is high in Belgium: up to 90% of people surveyed were familiar with the nationwide initiative.

Scheme overlap

Belgium’s success is partly due to the fact that it was an ‘early adopter’ of extended producer responsibility, Bracke argued. However, he went on to cite proliferation of waste collection schemes as an issue for the industry.

‘There is Bebat for portable and industrial batteries, Recybat for automotive batteries, Recupel for e-scrap, and many more which may overlap with the battery sector,’ Bracke noted before concluding that tailor-made initiatives were needed. ‘It is sometimes tricky to answer where does the responsibility of one scheme end and the responsibility of another scheme begin.’ 

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