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ICBR 2014: Battery Directive passes fitness check

Germany – ‘An estimated 5000 e-cars will be on the road in Hamburg by 2016,’ commented Holger Lange, Germany’s state secretary of urban development and environment, at the annual International Congress for Battery Recycling (ICBR) held last week in the northern German city.
It is ‘good news’ that the German Battery Act is under further development, Lange also told delegates. While the country is among the battery industry’s top performers, still less than 50% of its batteries are collected, he pointed out.

Looking at the industry from a pan-European perspective, the EU Battery Directive is ‘more relevant at the present time’, stated European Commission representative José Rizo. In Hamburg, he presented the key findings of a fitness check performed on the Directive, which found it to be ‘relatively up to date’ for now. ‘The Directive is no longer a legal issue, rather one of implementation,’ he suggested.

Counter-intiutive stats

Yet strict legislation regarding battery collections is not the foolproof tool it is sometimes made out to be, claimed Carl Smith, ceo and president of North American battery stewardship programme Call2Recycle. ‘It is counter-intuitive maybe, but the proof shows that requiring retailers to take back batteries for recycling does not tangibly improve collections or consumer accessibility to collection sites,’ he observed.

While there are examples of sustainable practice scattered around the USA, ‘the odd thing is that the location where recycling is considered of high importance doesn’t have to add up to overall commitment at state level,’ he told ICBR delegates. ‘Austin, for example, is a very green city, while Texas is absolutely not a green state. What you have is basically a green and clean hub amid a dirty environment.’

‘We need you’

EU environment commissioner Janez Potočnik had completed the circular economy package in recent weeks, announced Member of the European Parliament Karl-Heinz Florenz. That said, he called for tempered legislative power at EU level. ‘If you leave the bureaucrats in Brussels to their own devices, I don’t believe much good will come of it,’ he stated. ‘This means we, the member states and the entrepreneurs, have to deliver. So please, keep in contact with Brussels – we need you.’

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