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Half the population have never recycled a battery

Just 2% of batteries were recycled in 2009

Batteries - disposable and rechargeable AA, AAA and C cells

Half the population have never recycled a household battery, with many saying they just don’t know where to take them, according to the European Recycling Platfrom (ERP).

Around 40% of batteries are sold at Christmas – that’s about 10 per person. It’s not surprising then that the beginning of a new year is when hundreds of tonnes of used batteries could be making their way to landfill.

Which? batteries expert Hazel Cottrell says: ‘When batteries end up in landfill they leak dangerous chemicals. ERP says that in 2009 only 2% of batteries were recycled, so it’s really important we all recycle more of them.’

If you’re struggling to know how or where to recycle batteries, check out our essential recycling guide for tips on how to recycle more and better. We’ve also reviewed rechargeable batteries and single-use batteries, and recommend Best Buy batteries based on our thorough test results.

Recycling batteries

All shops selling more than 32kg of batteries each year must offer recycling facilities to help reduce the number of batteries that end up in landfill.

However, our research shows that some shops aren’t always following the rules, making it harder for you to recycle batteries. A Which? snapshot survey in November 2010 found that none of the four Poundland stores we visited had a battery recycling box. Of the four Lidl stores we visited, three lacked recycling boxes.

Poundland was ‘deeply concerned’ to hear our findings, which it could not explain and promised to investigate fully. Lidl said boxes had been stolen from two stores and the box in the third must have been being emptied. You can read the full results in our news story about battery collection.

Battery recycling targets

The law sets recycling targets at 25% of all batteries sold by 2012 and 45% by 2016. 

However, of those who don’t recycle batteries 45% said they didn’t know where to recycle them and 29% said they didn’t know it was possible at all.

Just 2% said the main reason why they had never recycled a battery was that they don’t have time and only 8% said that they can’t be bothered.

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You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.

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