Battery Recycling

178 million used batteries hoarded in UK homes and millions more end up in landfill

New research released today by the environmental charity Hubbub and compliance scheme Ecosurety reveals that six in ten people in the UK hoard batteries in their houses, adding up to a whopping 178 million batteries stashed in UK homes.

Less than half of the people surveyed (47%) realised that batteries are made of valuable heavy metals which can be reused, including lead, mercury, cadmium, zinc, manganese and lithium.

These toxic contents mean that they can be hazardous to the environment if not disposed of properly, yet half of the respondents (52%) admitted throwing batteries away in the regular waste bin.

This results in millions every year ending up in landfill, with the potential to leach into the ground and water supplies if not carefully managed.

Batteries lying around the house can also be fatal to young children and pets if eaten.  Whilst 82% of people are aware of this, parents of under fives are most likely to leave batteries lying around the house, with four in ten admitting they did so.

The #BringBackHeavyMetal campaign launches today to encourage people to take part in a battery amnesty this October and drop their batteries off at their nearest collection point.

The campaign sees Hubbub and Ecosurety bring together a coalition of well-known retailers including Asda, B&Q, Currys PC World, The Entertainer, Marks & Spencer and Morrisons, who all host public collection points, to make it easier for the public to recycle their batteries.  The manufacturer GP Batteries and compliance scheme BatteryBack are also supporting the campaign.

In heavy metal terms, the 178 million batteries are the equivalent of:

  • 28,982 Meatloafs (at his peak in the 80s he weighed 139.7kg)
  • 55,794 Ozzy Osbournes (72.57kg)
  • 1,115,814 Flying V guitars (3.62874kg)

Trewin Restorick, CEO and co-founder of Hubbub said:

All supermarkets and other major battery retailers are obliged to have battery recycling points for customers, but these can often be hard to find.

Four in ten people said they’d like better visibility of recycling points. The #BringBackHeavyMetal campaign introduces some unmissable and fun reminders in store at participating retailers which we hope will help raise awareness of how important and how easy it is to recycle batteries.”

James Piper, Managing Director of Ecosurety said:

In 2016 only 44% of the UK’s used batteries were collected for recycling.  That’s 380 tonnes short of the collection target, yet this new research shows that there is more than ten times the amount of the shortfall stashed away in people’s homes.

We will soon have the facility to recycle batteries in the UK for the first time and we hope that people will be inspired by this campaign to empty their drawers, keep their used batteries out of the regular waste bins and drop them off at a recycling point instead.”

More information on the Bring Back Heavy Metal campaign, including recycling locations and tips for reducing the environmental impact of batteries can be found at

Andy has worked as a freelance journalist for a number of years and has been published in some of the UK’s top newspapers. He is now the editor Commercial Waste Magazine and contributes to a large selection of headlines and blog articles on the site.

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