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Waste statistics - recycling of batteries and accumulators

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Data extracted in December 2021

Planned article update: December 2022

Highlights

In 2019, 51% of portable batteries sold in the EU were collected for recycling.

In 2019, 205 000 tonnes of portable batteries were sold in the EU; 100 000 tonnes of used portable batteries were collected as waste to be recycled.


[[File:Waste statistics - recycling of batteries -2021 V2.xlsx]]

Portable batteries and accumulators collected for recycling, EU, 2019

This article provides an overview of statistics on sales, collection and recycling of batteries and accumulators in the European Union and the EU Member States.

The overall objective of the Batteries Directive (see section on 'Data sources' below) 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; a high collection and recycling rate should be achieved to ensure a high level of environmental protection and material recovery.



Full article

Sales and collection of portable batteries and accumulators

Sales (products put on the market) and collection (waste collected) of portable batteries and accumulators from 2009 to 2019 are presented in Tables 1a and 1b, covering data for the European Union, the EU Member States, and for available EFTA countries. In 2019, around 205 000 tonnes of portable batteries and accumulators were put on the market (sales) in the EU, while around 100 000 tonnes of used portable batteries and accumulators were collected as recyclable waste. Thus, slightly more than half of the average annual sales of portable batteries (calculated on the period 2017-2019) were collected for recycling in year 2019.

Table 1a: Sales portable batteries and accumulators, 2009–2019
(tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (env_waspb)


Table 1b: Collection of portable batteries and accumulators, 2009–2019
(tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (env_waspb)


The amount of portable batteries and accumulators sold varies strongly across the EU Member States, with individual Member States ranging from 172 tonnes to nearly 56 000 tonnes in 2019. Overall, country-specific sales have increased over the period from 2009 to 2019, with volumes increasing for most Member States but remaining stable or slightly decreasing for a few others.

The data indicate that collection of waste portable batteries and accumulators is lower than sales. Between 2009 and 2019, collection of waste batteries increased steadily in almost all Member States, with only a few exceptions that show oscillation around a slightly growing trend.

Figure 1 shows the development of the collection and sales of portable batteries and accumulators in the EU. Sales grew slightly in the period 2009-2019: from a relatively high level in 2010 (176 000 tonnes), the amounts fell slightly to 169 000 tonnes in 2013, before rising steadily up to 205 000 tonnes in 2019. By contrast, collection of waste batteries and accumulators has increased steadily in the EU since 2009. Starting from a level of around 50 000 tonnes in 2009, collection increased to around 100 000 tonnes by 2019.

Figure 1: Sales and collection of portable batteries and accumulators, European Union, 2009–2019
(tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (env_waspb)


The Batteries Directive defines targets for the collection rates of portable batteries and accumulators. The target for 2012 was a collection rate of 25 %, rising to 45 % by 2016. In 2019 nineteen of the EU Member States recorded a collection rate of portable waste batteries of 45 % or more, with the highest nearly attaining 91 %; moreover, the Member State that has not yet reported 2019 data had reached the collection target in the previous year (2018) (see Table 2). The most recent available data indicate a collection rate above the former 25 % target for all EU Member States. Collection rates are calculated based on the sales data in Table 1a and the collection data in Table 1b, as a ratio of the weight of the collected batteries in a reference year divided by the average of the weight of the batteries sold during the reference year and the previous two years.

Table 2: Collection rates for portable batteries and accumulators, 2011–2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (env_waspb)

Recycling of batteries and accumulators

Due to the wide range of batteries that exist and the different type of metals and compounds of which they are made, there are specific recycling processes for each battery type. In this respect, the Batteries Directive differentiates between the type of applied technology based on lead-acid, Ni-Cd (nickel-cadmium) and other elements and compounds.

In contrast to sales and collection data, when it comes to recycling of batteries and accumulators no distinction is made between portable and industrial / automotive batteries. Thus, it is not possible to determine the type of batteries once they are shipped to the recycling facility. Consequently, the quantities of waste batteries and accumulators entering the recycling process are much higher than the recorded sales and collection amounts, which only include portable batteries and accumulators (see Tables 1a and 1b above and Tables 3a, 3b and 3c below).

Table 3a: Lead-acid batteries – input fractions to the recycling process, 2009–2019
(tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (env_wasbat)


Table 3b: Nickel-cadmium batteries – input fractions to the recycling process, 2009–2019
(tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (env_wasbat)


Table 3c: Other batteries – input fractions to the recycling process, 2009–2019
(tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (env_wasbat)

Recycling efficiency for lead-acid batteries

Recycling efficiencies for lead-acid batteries for reference years 2012 and 2019 are presented in Figure 2. Nearly all EU Member States achieved 65 % recycling efficiency or higher in all reference years from 2012 to 2019.

For year 2019, recycling efficiencies of lead-acid batteries were reported higher than 65 % for 25 Member States, while another Member State was very close to reach the target; the Member State that have not yet reported data for year 2019 had reached this target in year 2018. However, the recycling efficiencies did not display a clear trend across the countries during the period 2012-2019.

Figure 2: Recycling efficiencies for lead-acid batteries, 2012 and 2019
(useful recycled materials in % of input fractions)
Source: Eurostat (env_wasbat)

Recycling efficiency for Ni-Cd batteries

Recycling efficiencies for Ni-Cd batteries are presented in Figure 3: most of the EU Member States achieved the recycling efficiency target of 75 % in the period from 2012 to 2019, with some single exceptions. The recycling efficiencies lie mostly between 75 % and 85 %. Similar to the recycling efficiencies of lead-acid batteries, there is no clearly visible trend in the country-specific recycling efficiencies for Ni-Cd batteries; while the recycling efficiencies rose over the period 2012-2019 for some Member States, they fell for others, remained stable for some and fluctuated for others.

Figure 3: Recycling efficiencies for nickel-cadmium batteries, 2012 and 2019
(useful recycled materials in % of input fractions)
Source: Eurostat (env_wasbat)

Recycling efficiency for other batteries

For other batteries, the recycling efficiency target of 50 % was reached by nearly all reporting EU Member States in 2019 (or the most recent reference year for which data are available) (see Figure 4). The range of recycling efficiencies for other batteries spans from around 50 % to over 90 % across the Member States; this is much wider than for lead-acid and Ni-Cd batteries. As for lead-acid and Ni-Cd batteries, there is no uniform trend in the recycling efficiencies for the Member States; the trends over the period 2012-2019 vary significantly between individual countries, with no overall trend discernible.

Figure 4: Recycling efficiencies for other batteries, 2012 and 2019
(useful recycled materials in % of input fractions)
Source: Eurostat (env_wasbat)


Data sources

The reported data are available in Eurostat's reference database Eurobase. Reporting generally started in 2012 and include reference years back to 2009.

The analysis generally focuses on the most recent data on sales, collection and recycling of batteries and accumulators (lead-acid, nickel-cadmium and others).

Definitions

The key definitions used in this article have been laid down by Directive 2006/66/EC on portable batteries and accumulators (the ‘Batteries Directive’):

(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.

Context

The information and data presented in this article stem from the reporting obligations in the Directive 2006/66/EC on portable batteries and accumulators (the ‘Batteries Directive’ for short) 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 are 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.

Recycling efficiency

The Batteries Directive defines targets for the recycling efficiencies of batteries and accumulators. Recycling efficiencies address the recycling process only; they do not consider the efficiency of the collection, which is covered by the collection target for portable batteries and accumulators.

According to the Batteries Directive, recycling processes should achieve the recycling efficiencies:

  • 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.

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Waste statistics (env)

  • Waste streams (env_wasst)
    • Sales and collection of portable batteries and accumulators (env_waspb)
    • Recycling of batteries and accumulators (env_wasbat)