The UK’s largest closed-loop battery recycling collection system has been developed by Valpak, with the support of Europe’s leading paper-based packaging manufacturer Smurfit Kappa.

Valpak’s battery recycling collection scheme was Launched UK-wide on 1 February 2010, when compliance with The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009 becomes mandatory in the UK. The scheme will have the widest UK coverage and will result in the removal of batteries into landfill, the prevention of chemical leakage into the ground and the recovery of re-usable metals.

The recycling of batteries will be achieved through a closed-loop system, using uniquely designed collection boxes from Smurfit Kappa, being transported via specialist waste companies and being recovered, recycled and treated environmentally by G&P. The scheme builds on European best practice in battery recycling.

Innovative collection boxes, created by Smurfit Kappa have been designed for use in a variety of community spaces, so that the recycling of batteries is made convenient for the consumer. Three sizes of box (holding 25kgs, 15kgs and 10kgs of batteries) can be ordered by local authorities, independent establishments and retailers amongst others. The box variations are compact and manageable, with a small footprint to avoid displacement, especially within retail areas where floor space is at a premium.

The battery recycling box is made from one piece of corrugated board, is cube shaped and uses a unique design to ensure that it is functional, practical and robust. Once full, its lid closes to seal the box – morphing it into a battery storage and transport collection point. Once collected the cube box shape allows for maximum utilisation of vehicle space to ensure the most environmental and economical transportation. It also comes flat packed for bulk delivery and easy storage, and is easily assembled.

The eye-catching exterior of the box is designed to act attract attention to the collection point. It is flexo-printed using water soluble inks. The box also carries all recycling information needed by the consumer, the collection point, the collector and the recycler.

The box has a special lightweight design, with excess packaging removed. The pack contains recycled materials, uses no mixed materials and is 100% biodegradable and recyclable. Once emptied the boxes are collected for recycling, to complete the closed-loop.

Steve Gough, Valpak CEO said, “We expected to be put under pressure by retailers, producers and organisations looking for specific battery collection systems. The team travelled around Europe to research at what worked best there and found member states moved batteries in robust cardboard containers.”

He continued, “We took this experience and talked to packaging experts Smurfit Kappa who came up with a prototype for us. The resulting box is a lot more sophisticated than it looks, it has recycled content, is double sealed, has weight removed from the original design, flat packs and pops easily together and is the perfect shape to move when full, a cube. This helps with bulking and transporting goods, keeping costs to a minimum.”

George Hadfield, waste officer at The Co-operative Food said, “We recently formed a partnership with Valpak whereby our customers have the facility to recycle redundant batteries in store. Our customers will be aware of our responsibilities and diligence that batteries purchased in our stores will not end up in the landfill sector. Valpak have a proven track record and an excellent track record working with The Co-operative Group.

It is for this reason we chose Valpak. The Co-operative Group has embraced the new legislation and all our stores have a small recycling box that is easy to handle and stored. The box was designed by Valpak, Smurfit Kappa and The Co-operative Group in partnership. Once the boxes are full our stores will arrange a collection through Valpak who will close the loop and recycle the redundant batteries.”

Alan Taylor, customer services director at Energizer said, “We chose Valpak for batteries compliance because of their track record and the research they had obviously done looking at other countries. The Smurfit Kappa box struck us as a simple and logical way to collect, store and move batteries. It was small and convenient and strikes a chord when you know it can be recycled at the end of its life. Our customers have been looking to be able to drop batteries off for recycling and now they will have the route to do this.”

To date, with the help of battery scheme members like The Co-operative Group, Valpak has installed over 30,000 collection points for portable batteries to be dropped off at. This in itself has allowed battery recycling to become much more accessible to the general public and become part of everyday life. Partners such as The Co-operative Group allow consumers to drop off their old batteries while picking up their shopping at the local neighbourhood store.

Steve Gough, Valpak CEO commented, “It has been great to see another piece of producer responsibility legislation drive change, expand recycling, develop new and innovative collection techniques and equipment and see the public and environment benefit at the same time.”