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Belgium leads Eurostat’s battery recycling shortlist

On average, 44% of batteries sold across Europe were collected for recycling, new data by Eurostat reveals. It also shows one country is outperforming all others: Belgium.

Some 71% of all batteries sold in Belgium were handed in for recycling in 2016, a figure confirmed by Belgian collection service provider Bebat. Bebat says it is ‘very proud’ to be in the best battery recycling nation in the EU and praises Belgian citizens for ‘massively’ returning used batteries at nearly 24 000 of its collection points across the country. 

Top and bottom ranking

In second place on 63% is Luxembourg, followed by Hungary and Lithuania (both 53%), Czech Republic (52%), Austria and Bulgaria (both 49%), Ireland and Slovakia (both 48%) and Germany, Finland and the Netherlands (all on 46%). Sweden, the UK, Denmark and France are on 45%.

Countries scoring below the 44% average collection rate in the EU are Portugal (42%), Malta and Poland (39%), Spain (38%), Slovenia (36%), Italy (35%), Greece (34%), Norway (32%), Estonia (31%), Latvia (30%), Croatia (29%) and Romania with 21%.

Collection ‘significantly lower’ than sales

Eurostat points out that 2016 battery sales data vary widely across the EU member states, from about 100 tonnes in Malta to more than 40 000 tonnes in Germany. Analysts add that figures indicate that collection of waste portable batteries and accumulators much lower than sales: from less than 40 tonnes in Malta (about one-third of sales) to about 20 000 tonnes (less than half of sales) in Germany in 2016.

Recent take-back boost

Battery sales across the EU have remained ‘relatively stable’. In contrast, collection of waste batteries and accumulators in the EU has increased continuously since 2009. Starting from about 54 000 tonnes in 2009, collection surged by over 70% to around 93 000 tonnes in 2016.

Lead acid and ni-cad batteries

When it comes to lead acid batteries, nearly all countries met the recycling target of 65% in 2016 and most scored above 75% (*see graphs). For nickel cadmium batteries, most reporting countries fulfilled the efficiency target of 75%, with some exceptions in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Recycling levels for batteries in this segment are mostly between 75% and 85%.

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