Waste statistics - recycling of batteries and accumulators
Data extracted in February 2020
Planned article update: March 2021
In 2018, close to 48 % of portable batteries sold in the EU were collected for recycling.
In 2018, 191 000 tonnes of portable batteries were sold in the EU; 88 000 tonnes of used portable batteries were collected as waste to be recycled.
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.
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 2018 are presented in Tables 1a and 1b, covering data for the European Union, the EU Member States, the United Kingdom and available EFTA countries. In 2018, around 191 000 tonnes of portable batteries and accumulators were put on the market (sales) in the EU, while around 88 000 tonnes of used portable batteries and accumulators were collected as recyclable waste. Thus, the data shows that almost half of the batteries put on the market were collected for recycling.
The amount of portable batteries and accumulators sold varies strongly across the EU Member States, with individual Member States ranging from 81 tonnes to more than 52 000 tonnes in 2018. Overall, country-specific sales have increased over the period from 2009 to 2018, 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 considerably lower than sales. Between 2009 and 2018, collection of waste batteries increased steadily in almost all Member States, with only a few exceptions.
Figure 1 shows the development of the collection and sale of portable batteries and accumulators in the EU. Sales have remained relatively stable: from a relatively high level in 2010 (176 000 tonnes), the amounts slightly fell to 169 000 tonnes in 2013, before rising steadily up to 191 000 tonnes in 2018. 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 88 000 tonnes by 2018.
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. Around three quarters of the EU Member States for which 2018 data are available recorded a collection rate of waste batteries of 45 % or more, with the highest close to 70 % (see Table 2). The most recent available data indicates a collection rate above 25 % 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.
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, 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).
The difference between sales and collection of portable batteries (all types) and recycling of lead-acid batteries is particularly striking. At EU level, about 191 000 tonnes of portable batteries and accumulators of different types were put on the market in 2018, while nearly 1.4 million tonnes of lead-acid batteries (input fractions to the recycling) entered the recycling processes in the EU in 2018. This suggests that the lead-acid batteries for recycling predominantly come from the automotive sector.
Recycling efficiency for lead-acid batteries
Recycling efficiencies for lead-acid batteries for reference years 2012 and 2018 are presented in Figure 2. Nearly all EU Member States achieved 65 % recycling efficiency or higher in all reference years from 2012 to 2018.
By 2018, recycling efficiencies of lead-acid batteries were higher than 75 % for more than four fifths of the Member States. However, the recycling efficiencies did not display a clear trend across the countries during the period 2012-2018.
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 2018, 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 2012-2018 for some Member States, they fell for others, remained stable for some and fluctuated for others.
Recycling efficiency for other batteries
For other batteries, the recycling efficiency target of 50 % was met by all reporting EU Member States in 2018 (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 2012-2018 vary significantly between individual countries, with no overall trend discernible.
Rate of recycled content – lead and cadmium
The Batteries Directive does not lay down specific quantitative targets for the recycling rates of lead content in lead-acid batteries and cadmium content in Ni-Cd batteries, respectively. However, the Directive stipulates that the recycling of the lead and cadmium contents shall be done to the highest technically feasible degree while avoiding excessive costs. Countries reported the rates of recycled contents 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 2018. For 2018 (or the most recent reference year available), 80 % or more of the lead content of lead-acid batteries was recycled in all reporting countries; indeed, in 17 of the EU Member States 95 % or more of the lead content was recycled.
The rates of recycled cadmium content of Ni-Cd batteries is close to 100 % for the majority of the EU Member States reporting data (see Figure 6). This is overall higher than the rates for lead in lead-acid batteries. However, there are a number of exceptions, and a number of Member States for which these data are not available. The cadmium content in Ni-Cd batteries is much lower than the lead content in lead-acid batteries.
Source data for tables and graphs
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).
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.
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.
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.
- 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)