Thursday, May 04, 2006

Assault on batteries

waste batteriesThere was a time, once, when the UK was the world leader in recycling lead acid batteries – the type you have in your cars – recovering over ninety percent of discards. The system worked without any costs to the taxpayer or consumer and with minimal regulation, providing a good living to the small number of scrap merchants who specialised in the trade.

Then, along came the EU with its battery directive – building a web of regulation, red-tape, inspectors and controls. Scrap merchants went out of business and, to cover the regulatory costs, battery sellers had to impose a charge on consumers. Almost immediately, the percentage of batteries recovered fell to around sixty percent and batteries started appearing in hedge-backs and other fly-tipping sites.

Having failed totally to learn the lesson of this disaster – or even understand that there was a lesson to learn, the EU is back in business with a new battery directive, extended to cover a wider range of products. The directive will, according to the IHT, cost battery producers some €200 million and €400 million a year, placing an obligation on them to collect and arrange the cycling of their products.

By this means, the EU hopes it will encourage the recovery of the annual 158,000 tons of batteries sold to the domestic market, starting in 2012, when a quarter of all batteries sold must be collected, leading to 2016, when the target will rise to 45 percent.

Like all EU recycling initiatives, this one is producer rather than market-led, and will prove a disaster, leading to the sort of problems like this in the US – where the greenies have over-regulated their system in the interest of "saving the planet".

Needless to say, the mindless loons in the Toy Parliament are expected to approve the measure within a couple of weeks and, soon thereafter, it will come into law. They will never learn.


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