APPENDIX 3: PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY FOR BATTERIES
Battery Collection in Belgium
In 1993, a tax on batteries was agreed by the Belgian
Government as part of their ecotax legislation. Before this was
implemented, a voluntary agreement with industry resulted in the
ecotax law for batteries being changed on March 7, 1996. The voluntary
agreement was signed on June 16, 1997. Batteries were now to be
exempted from the ecotax when a voluntary collection and recycling
scheme was set up. The following conditions applied:
- The system had to be financed by the battery
- Until the year 2000, certain target percentages
for recycling had to be met.
The voluntary agreement involved the battery industry
setting up a non-profit organisation called BEBAT to co-ordinate
the collection and recycling of batteries and ensure that the
target percentages were reached. The financing of the 'collection
and recycling contribution' was to be paid by members of the organisation
(i.e., battery producers and distributors). This contribution
would be passed on to the consumers through a price increase.
The levy was set by the Royal Decree of April 16, 1996 and AT
4 BEF per battery, is far lower than the ecotax of 20 BEF.
BEBAT is a non-profit organisation founded by the
battery industry for the sole purpose of this voluntary agreement.
In legal terms, the agreement states that BEBAT is responsible
for collecting and recycling used batteries that were sold on
Belgian territory. Following the introduction of BEBAT, the number
of batteries collected rose significantly. BEBAT collects many
more batteries than the regions do, and seems to have taken over
the role of separate battery collection from the regions - the
percentage of batteries collected by the regions decreased as
the percentage collected by BEBAT grew. This is probably due to
media campaigns and the high profile BEBAT obtained by the placement
of boxes in shops and public places.
BEBAT places collection boxes at approximately 20,000
collection points (market stores, photo shops, jewellers, schools,
etc.) at no cost for the owners of the collection points. During
the first year BEBAT started an awareness campaign to inform the
consumers and distributors about the new system.
Before the voluntary collection system for batteries
in Belgium, only a small percentage of them were recycled. The
public waste companies considered them to be hazardous waste,
and consumers were supposed to collect them separately, but there
were no incentives to do so. Of the small number of batteries
that were collected separately, only the nickel-cadmium batteries
were being recycled.
The voluntary agreement deals with several aspects
of collecting and recycling a fixed percentage of used batteries
in Belgium. BEBAT is required to fulfil certain collection percentages.
These percentage recycling rates are identical to those mentioned
in the ecotax law (relating to the proposed deposit-refund system)
and are as follows:
- 40% in 1996
- 50% in 1997
- 60% in 1998
- 67.5% in 1999
- 75% in 2000
The collected amount of batteries includes the batteries
collected by the inter-urban waste companies of the regions through
the public collection sites as well as those collected by BEBAT.
The batteries collected by BEBAT must be recycled
according to the agreements signed with the three regions. For
monitoring purposes, BEBAT is required to provide information
to the ecotax commission, the regional governments and the federal
government at fixed intervals. Following an annual report, the
ecotax commission advises the governments on whether to allow
the voluntary agreement to continue. If the prescribed percentage
for that year were not been reached, all sold batteries would
become subject to the ecotax the following year and BEBAT would
Up until the present, BEBAT has succeeded in achieving
the target collection percentages, but the 1999 figures are not
available and as the collection of batteries has shown a decrease
over the past three years, the incremental increases are getting
smaller every year.
In 1997 the total income of BEBAT amounted to 260
million BEF, while total costs were 235 million BEF. This resulted
in a net surplus of just over 25 million BEF, while in 1996 there
was a net surplus of 64.4 million BEF. However, BEBAT incurred
a net loss of 49.4 million BEF in 1998, and they projected bigger
losses in 1999. The higher costs were due to:
- The improvement of recycling techniques, which
lead to a higher recycling percentage but also an increase in
- The growing percentage of batteries that need
to be collected by BEBAT, requiring ongoing and more intensive
To cover these costs, BEBAT asked the ecotax commission
to allow an increase in the collection and recycling contribution
from 4 BEF to 5 BEF. This was allowed.
De Caevel, B. 1995. Ophaalsystemen voor gebruikte
batterijen in Belgie: gevoeligheidsanalyse, FEE
Battery Collection in Sweden
According to the Swedish Environmental Protection
Agency, the battery charge in Sweden is intended to finance the
long-term costs for the collection and disposal of spent, hazardous
batteries. Under the Ordinance on Environmentally Hazardous Batteries,
manufacturers and sellers must pay a charge for certain batteries
defined as hazardous. Seller of batteries are obliged to accept
used batteries returned to them and to supply information to the
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency as to the quantity sold.
Revenues from the charge are collected in the Battery Fund administered
by the Swedish EPA since 1991.
The levels of charge on different batteries are:
29,000 tonnes of batteries circulate in Sweden every
year. 25,000 tonnes of these are starter batteries and industrial
batteries which contain lead and are therefore classified as hazardous.
Of the remainder (mostly nickel-cadmium, though some small lead
batteries and button-type batteries containing mercury), 750 tonnes
were classified as hazardous in 1994.
The charges for dry-cell batteries except integral
nickel-cadmium batteries were introduced in 1987; the charge for
starter batteries in January 1991; and the charge integral nickel-cadmium
batteries in April 1992.
Lead accumulator batteries
Suppliers of lead accumulator batteries are obliged
to take back spent batteries. A charge is levied on manufacturers
and importers of such batteries to finance the handling of the
used batteries. In 1989, Swedish manufacturers of lead accumulator
batteries, scrap merchants and the recycling company formed a
joint company (Returbatt) to administer compensation for collection
and recycling of starter batteries.
The Swedish EPA collected approximately SEK 42 million
in 1995 from manufacturers and importers of lead accumulator batteries.
The total administrative costs of the EPA have been estimated
at SEK 400,000 and Returbatt's are thought to be about the same.
The total costs are estimated to be about 2% of total revenues.
The collection rate is considered to be around 100 per cent. The
high recovery rate is assumed to be a result of the compensation
offered to scrap merchants for batteries delivered for recycling
and the fact that consumers want to be rid of the batteries.
Consumers deciding to return spent batteries do so
on their own initiative without any financial incentive. Battery
charges have financed the supply of information to consumers designed
to improve knowledge and awareness.
Collection of button cell batteries began in the
late 1970s and collection of alkaline batteries containing mercury
began the following decade. Battery charges were introduced in
the late 1980s to cover the cost of battery disposal. Total revenues
for NicE batteries sold in 1995 were SEK 15 million.
The most commonly sold alkaline batteries have not
contained mercury since 1992. Regarding button-type batteries,
there is a move away from mercuric oxide batteries containing
35 per cent mercury to other dry cell types containing less than
1 per cent mercury.
The recovery rate of these batteries has not been
highly successful and the charge has been raised on several occasions
because of this. The charge on these batteries was raised from
SEK 13 to SEK 25 per kg in 1992. It was raised again in 1994 to
46 SEK per kilogram. In 1993, retail associations made a commitment
to increase the recovery rate for nickel-cadmium batteries to
90 per cent within two ears. A foundation was established for
this purpose (SIMBA - Stiftelsen Insamling av Miljofarliga Batterier
"Foundation for the Collection of Hazardous Batteries").
Since 1993 SIMBA has used SEK 21 million from the battery fund
in an attempt to establish retail collection systems. The industry
withdrew its commitment in 1995 at which point the recovery rate
was about 30 per cent. One of the tasks of a Government Commission
(the Battery Commission) set up in 1995 was to address this low
rate of recovery of nickel-cadmium batteries.
The Battery Commission report in 1996 proposed that
the charges be raised to SEK 200/kg for small lead accumulator
batteries, SEK 1,500/kg for mercuric oxide batteries, SEK 1,000/kg
for hazardous alkaline manganese dioxide batteries and SEK 300
for nickel-cadmium batteries. The reason for these sharp increases
was to achieve long-term coverage of the cost of final disposal/storage,
increased information supply and collection and sorting of batteries.
Another potential instrument discussed as a means of improving
the battery recovery rate was a deposit system. However, it was
argued that such a system would not cover repayments since sales
of hazardous batteries are expected to decline, batteries are
inadequately labelled and there is a risk of spent batteries being
imported in order to collect the deposit refund.
Source: Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (1997)
Environmental taxes in Sweden - Economic instruments for Environmental
Policy. Report 4745, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.