Waste statistics - recycling of batteries and accumulators
Data extracted in June 2018
Planned article update: March 2019
In 2016, 44 % of batteries sold in the EU were collected for recycling.
In 2016, 214 000 tonnes of batteries were sold in the EU, while 93 000 tonnes of waste batteries were collected for recycling.
This article provides an overview of statistics on sales, collection and recycling of batteries and accumulators in the European Union and the Member States.
The overall objective of the Batteries Directive (see Data sources) is to minimise the negative impact of batteries and accumulators on the environment, thus contributing to the protection, preservation and improvement of the quality of the environment. Therefore, waste batteries and accumulators should be collected and a high collection and recycling rate should be achieved to ensure a high level of environmental protection and material recovery.
Sales and collection of portable batteries and accumulators
Sales (products put on the market) and collection (waste collected) data for portable batteries and accumulators for individual European countries and totals for the EU from 2009 to 2016 are presented in Table 1. In 2016, about 214 000 tonnes of portable batteries and accumulators were put on the market (sales) in the EU-28, while about 93 000 tonnes of waste portable batteries and accumulators were collected. Thus, the data suggests that over twice the amount of batteries were put on the market than were collected.
Sales data vary widely across the EU Member States, from about 100 tonnes in Malta to more than 40 000 tonnes in Germany. Overall, country-specific sales data has remained relatively stable (e.g. Germany) over the period from 2009 to 2016, with some Member States slightly increasing (e.g. Austria) and a few others slightly decreasing amounts (e.g. Italy).
The data indicate that collection of waste portable batteries and accumulators is considerably 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. However, collection data in most countries increased steadily (e.g. Italy, France and Hungary).
Figure 1 shows the development of the collection and sale of portable batteries and accumulators in the EU. Sales have remained relatively stable: a minimum of about 206 000 tonnes in 2013 and a maximum of about 220 000 tonnes in 2010. A very moderate increase from the 2013 minimum occurred in 2014 and 2015. 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 increased by over 70 % to around 93 000 tonnes in 2016.
The Batteries Directive (see Data sources) defines the targets for the collection rates of portable batteries and accumulators, which were 25 % in 2012, rising to 45 % in 2016. In 2016, 13 EU Member States did not reach the 45 % collection rate target (see Table 2). Of these, 10 countries reported collection rates lower than 45 % and 5 countries did not report a collection rate. Thus, 13 Member States reached the 45 % target.
Collection rates are calculated based on the sales and collection data in Table 1. The calculation takes into consideration a retention time of portable batteries in their applications.
Recycling of batteries and accumulators
Due to the wide range of batteries that exist and the varying component metals of which they are made, there are specific recycling processes for each battery type. In this respect the Batteries Directive differentiates between lead-acid batteries, Ni-Cd batteries (nickel-cadmium) and other batteries.
In contrast to sales and collection data, for recycling of batteries and accumulators no distinction is made between portable and industrial / automotive batteries; it is not possible to determine the type of batteries once they are shipped to the recycling facility. Consequently, amounts of waste batteries and accumulators entering the recycling process are much higher than sales and collection data, which include portable batteries and accumulators only, see Table 1 or Table 3.
The difference between sales and collection of portable batteries and recycling of lead-acid batteries is particularly striking. For example, the data indicate that about 46 000 tonnes of portable batteries and accumulators were put on sale in Germany in 2016, while about 207 000 tonnes of lead-acid batteries (input fractions to recycling) entered the recycling system in Germany in 2016. A similar situation is mirrored in all European countries. This suggests that the lead-acid batteries for recycling are predominantly from the automotive sector.
Recycling efficiency for lead-acid batteries
Recycling efficiencies for lead-acid batteries are presented in Figure 2 for reference years 2012 and 2016. In general, nearly all countries met the target of 65 % recycling efficiency in the reference years from 2012 to 2016 (except Lithuania, incomplete data). Recycling efficiencies of lead-acid batteries for a vast majority of countries were above 75 % in 2016. Recycling efficiencies do not display a clear trend for the country-specific data but vary for the period 2012 to 2016.
Recycling efficiency for Ni-Cd batteries
Recycling efficiencies for Ni-Cd batteries are presented in Figure 3. Most reporting countries fulfilled the efficiency target of 75 %, with single exceptions in 2013, 2014 and 2016. The recycling efficiencies are mostly between 75 % and 85 %. Similar to recycling efficiencies of lead-acid batteries, there is no visible trend for the country-specific data; recycling efficiencies for Ni-Cd batteries vary for the period 2012 to 2016.
Recycling efficiency for other batteries
The recycling efficiency target of 50 % for other batteries was met by all reporting countries in 2015 and 2016 (see Figure 4). In previous years, only a few countries failed to reach the 50 % target (e.g. Sweden and Lithuania). The range of recycling efficiencies of other batteries is much larger than for lead-acid and Ni-Cd batteries: from 50 % to about 80 % for most countries. Once again, recycling efficiencies for individual countries vary significantly from 2012 to 2016 and no overall trend is visible.
Rate of recycled content – lead and cadmium
No quantitative targets for the rates of recycled content of lead in lead-acid batteries and cadmium in Ni-Cd batteries are given in the Batteries Directive. However, the Directive stipulates that the recycling of the lead and the cadmium content shall be done to the highest technically feasible degree while avoiding excessive costs. Reporting of rates of recycled contents took place for the first time for reference year 2014.
Country specific results for the recycled lead content of lead-acid batteries are presented in Figure 5 for 2014 and 2016. Almost all rates of recycled lead content reported by countries are between 85 % and 100 %. Based on country-specific data for 2016, the typical lead content in lead-acid batteries was estimated to be in a range between 58 % and 79 %.
Rates of recycled cadmium content of Ni-Cd batteries (see Figure 6) are generally 99 % or 100 % with some exceptions and thus overall higher than the rates for lead in lead-acid batteries. The cadmium content in Ni-Cd batteries is much lower than the lead content in lead-acid batteries. Typical cadmium content between 6 % and 25 % was calculated based on the countries’ data.
Source data for tables and graphs
The reported data are usually available in Eurostat's database approximately 21 months after the end of the reference year. Reporting started in 2012 and included reference years back to 2009.
The analysis focuses on the EU-28 in 2014 as data on batteries are available for all current EU Member States with the exception of Ireland, Greece, Cyprus and Romania. For the calculation of the EU aggregate of 2014, data were taken from the latest available year for those countries.
For the purposes of this Directive, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) Battery or accumulator means any source of electrical energy generated by direct conversion of chemical energy and consisting of one or more primary battery cells (non-rechargeable) or consisting of one or more secondary battery cells (rechargeable);
(2) Portable battery or accumulator means any battery, button cell, battery pack or accumulator that:
- • is sealed; and
- • can be hand-carried; and
- • is neither an industrial battery or accumulator nor an automotive battery or accumulator;
(3) Automotive battery or accumulator means any battery or accumulator used for automotive starter, lighting or ignition power;
(4) Industrial battery or accumulator means any battery or accumulator designed for exclusively industrial or professional uses or used in any type of electric vehicle;
(5) Waste battery or accumulator means any battery or accumulator which is waste within the meaning of Article 1(1)(a) of Directive 2006/12/EC;
(6) Annual sales of portable batteries and accumulators to end-users should be expressed as the weight of the portable batteries and accumulators placed on the market in the territory of the Member State in the year concerned, excluding any portable batteries and accumulators that have left the territory of that Member State in that year before being sold to end-users;
(7) Placing on the market means supplying or making available, whether in return for payment or free of charge, to a third party within the Community and includes import into the customs territory of the Community;
(8) Collection rate means, for a given Member State in a given calendar year, the percentage obtained by dividing the weight of waste portable batteries and accumulators collected in accordance with Article 8(1) of this Directive or with Directive 2002/96/EC in that calendar year, by the average weight of portable batteries and accumulators that producers either sell directly to end-users or deliver to third parties in order to sell them to end-users in that Member State during that calendar year and the preceding two calendar years;
(9) Recycling efficiency of a recycling process means the ratio obtained by dividing the mass of output fractions accounting for recycling by the mass of the waste batteries and accumulators input fraction expressed as a percentage.
The information and data presented in this article stem from the reporting obligations in the Directive 2006/66/EC on portable batteries and accumulators (subsequently called Batteries Directive) and the Commission Regulation (EU) No 493/2012, which lay down rules on monitoring batteries and accumulators. The Batteries Directive sets collection targets for portable batteries and accumulators and recycling targets for all batteries and accumulators, differentiated by type.
Reliable and comparable data on the quantities of batteries and accumulators is necessary for monitoring whether the objectives of the Batteries Directive have been achieved. The Directive distinguishes between:
- • portable batteries and accumulators and
- • industrial and automotive batteries and accumulators.
Member States report data on the sale and collection of portable batteries and accumulators and on the recycling of all batteries and accumulators. With regard to recycling, the Batteries Directive differentiates between the following three battery types:
- • lead-acid batteries and accumulators,
- • nickel-cadmium batteries and accumulators, and
- • other batteries and accumulators.
The Batteries Directive defines targets for the recycling efficiencies of batteries and accumulators. Recycling efficiencies address the recycling process only and do not consider the efficiency of the collection which is covered by the aforementioned collection target for portable batteries and accumulators.
According to Article 12 (4) of the Directive and in Annex III (Part B: Recycling), recycling processes shall achieve the following minimum recycling efficiencies by no later than 26 September 2011:
- • recycling of 65% by average weight of lead-acid batteries and accumulators;
- • recycling of 75% by average weight of nickel-cadmium batteries and accumulators;
- • recycling of 50% by average weight of other batteries and accumulators.
Commission Regulation (EU) No 493/2012 specifies in Article 2 (3): ‘recycling efficiency’ of a recycling process means the ratio obtained by dividing the mass of output fractions accounting for recycling by the mass of the waste batteries and accumulators input fraction expressed as a percentage
Starting with the reference year 2014, recycling efficiencies have to be calculated according to Commission Regulation (EU) No 493/2012. Details are given in Annexes I, IV, V and VI and in the Guidelines on the application of this Commission Regulation.
- Environment statistics introduced
- Municipal waste statistics
- Packaging waste statistics
- Waste shipment statistics
- Waste statistics
- Recycling – secondary material price indicator
- Waste shipment statistics based on the European list of waste codes
- Waste statistics - electrical and electronic equipment
- Waste (env_was), see:
Waste statistics (env)
- Waste streams (env_wasst)
- - Sales and collection of portable batteries and accumulators (env_waspb)
- - Recycling of batteries and accumulators (env_wasbat)
- Sales, collection and recycling of portable batteries and accumulators (ESMS metadata file - env_waspb_esms)