People still don’t understand the importance of collecting used batteries

People still don’t understand the importance of collecting used batteries

Although the collecting of the batteries is free of charge, only a small category of consumers in Romania, especially amongst the young people got the habit of depositing them in the designated places. According to the European model, the polluter foots the bill. Elena Gaspar, the president of the National Battery Recycling System Association (SNRB) tells us what to do in order to collect the used batteries, depending on their type.

  1. Where can larger batteries be stored?

Both laptop and phone batteries can be taken and collected in hypermarkets, where there are boxes for small batteries as well. For larger batteries, in the industrial category (scooters, electric bikes, electric cars) there are other ways of collection. On request, the collector you work with will send you special containers. For example, we have containers that let the smoke out, but don’t let fire out. So, it somehow cuts off the oxygen. And that makes the collector safe.

  1. Do we have in Romania enough collecting and recycling stations for the batteries?

For the portable batteries there are quite a lot, because each organisation like ours has developed its own collection points: in retail, at the business’s venues, in schools. The problem is that the voluntary contribution is very small. 10% of what we collect comes from this voluntary contribution. The rest comes from economic agents.

Things get more complicated for other type of batteries. The collector must create a space which the consumers should support together with the collector.

As far as recycling is concerned, for alkaline and zinc-carbon batteries, i.e. normal batteries, we have two recyclers. For lithium-ion recycling we have the wonderful figure of zero at the moment.

One of the recyclers who have taken the alkaline part is working on developing the lithium-ion line and hopes to be able to release it in September. But it will be a small capacity line.

Even at the European level the recycling capacity for lithium-ion is far undersized.

There is an assessment made by the European Commission and Eucobat (the management organisation for battery waste, of which we are a member which estimates that by 2030, the need for recycling will be around 300,000 tonnes per year.

At the moment the European capacity is just over 35 thousand tonnes per year. On the one hand it is a business opportunity, on the other it certainly requires an investment.

  1. Which approach do the Romanians choose when it comes to getting rid of the used batteries? Do they collect them or simply throw them away?

Unfortunately, in Romania, people collect and take the batteries to a collection point only if they have a benefit. There are also people who call us or write to us because they want to recycle their old batteries. There is a certain category who has somehow developed such habits, they are young people, between 25-35 years old.

We want to let everyone know that the procedure is simple: anyone can go to our website ( and ask us, we will send collection containers to their home. There are small containers, we give them to everyone, including to companies, free of charge. The collection is free of charge. We also send someone to pick them up or tell them where to go to put them in the containers.

And if they want to get something in return, they can take them in Carrefour supermarkets, with whom we have a special deal and they can get new batteries in exchange.

If for example someone wants to recycle laptop batteries, he must put an adhesive tape on its poles. It is enough to avoid contact with other batteries and the risk of fire. But people should not panic if they have a lithium battery. If you have a device such as a phone, or an external battery and see that it has swollen a bit, take it out and put it in a safe place.

The first sign is the swelling, after which a bad-smelling smoke comes out.

  1. Would you support more “serious” measures to persuade people to dispose of used batteries only in specially designated places?

The new Regulation for the batteries was published in the EU Official Journal in July, because the Battery Directive was amended and transformed into a Regulation. It is already enforced and will take effect from the 1st January 2024. The Regulation provides for a range of penalties, but each Member State has 18 months, I think, from its entry into force to submit to the EC the penalties it wants to apply.

There is legislation on battery recycling in Romania; the problem is that it is not enforced. Under current legislation, a shop selling batteries or battery products is obliged to have a collection point where people can bring batteries for recycling, free of charge.

But there is no penalty attached. So, if the Environmental Guard visits him, the environment commissioners can only recommend him to create that point. There’s nothing else they can do. They can’t fine him. We ask retailers to provide them with free collection bins.

For everything that is waste there should be measures enforced, including fines. You collect separately, are respectful with the law and environment, you pay less as a monthly fee for the rubbish collection. You don’t collect separately, you pay more, as it happens in other European countries.