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Cambridge City Council

More frequent battery recycling collections

25 January 2023

CAMBRIDGE and South Cambridgeshire households can now conveniently recycle used, small batteries weekly, thanks to changes to waste collections.

Adjustments to bin lorries mean that small plastic bags containing used batteries can now simply be left on top of green, black or blue bins for collection by crews on their usual rounds.

Previously, residents of both areas were asked to tie a small bag containing used batteries onto the handles of their blue bin. Now, they can simply put used batteries inside a small plastic bag, tie it up, and leave that bag on top of any of their three bins when they put it out for collection.

The change has been announced by the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service – the partnership between Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils which carries out bin collections in both areas.

Residents of flats with shared bins should not leave batteries on these but can take them to one of the many public battery collection points at corner shop chains, supermarkets, chemists and petrol stations as well as those at recycling points and Household Recycling Centres. All locations can be found on the Recycle Now website.

Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Environment, Climate Change and Biodiversity at Cambridge City Council said: “We are always looking for new ways to encourage recycling and reuse, and to reduce waste. By adding a dedicated bucket for household batteries to the side of each bin lorry, the process for collecting them for recycling will now be much easier and more convenient, both for residents and our waste crews. Plus, we still have a number of collection points around the city where residents can take their batteries if they wish to dispose of them there. Please remember batteries should never be put inside your bin. It is important that batteries are recycled properly to recover the precious metal inside them, to keep hazardous substances from the environment, and to prevent fires in bin lorries or the sorting facility.”

Cllr Henry Batchelor, Lead Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Licensing at South Cambridgeshire District Council said: “Dead batteries contain a lot of useful materials which can be used again, but only half of the up to 1 billion batteries thrown away in the UK each year are recycled correctly. Some of those that end up in bins get damaged and catch fire. We’ve seen this first hand with fires in our bin lorries, including near Orchard Park back in October, which endanger our crews, damage expensive equipment, disrupt our services and result in fire service callouts. We hope that by making batteries easier to recycle regularly we can help residents to safely recycle all their batteries. I’d also encourage residents to consider buying rechargeable batteries as modern ones hold their charge much better than was previously the case and can be charged more quickly.”

The used batteries will then be collected for recycling by Valpak.

James Nash, Commercial Manager at Valpak, said: "Reconomy Group company, Valpak, would like to congratulate Greater Cambridge Shared Waste on its proactive approach to recycling batteries. Diverting this hazardous waste from landfill is hugely important for the environment, and offering local residents a convenient way to recycle, right from their doorstep, will give the scheme the greatest chance of success. We arrange for the collected batteries to be sorted and recycled. The chemistry of waste batteries varies widely, and our network caters for the full array of battery types that arise. The most typical materials captured in the recycling processes, however, are cobalt, nickel and steel. Once processed, these go right back into battery manufacturing, or put to use in industries such as construction, electronics or the steel industry. Whichever new life they take on, we can be confident that they are not decomposing in the ground, leaching harmful chemicals into our environment."

Most small common household portable batteries can be placed out for collection at the kerbside, including:

  • AA and AAA
  • C and D
  • Button cells

Please do not include mobile phone, laptop batteries or those that are attached to a device. Search online for ‘recycle small electrical items’ instead.

Greater Cambridge Shared Waste collects recycling and rubbish from around 128,000 households across the city of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire.