Volunteer initiative Batareyky Zdavaites together with six importer companies begin industrial recycling of batteries

Volunteers involved over 70 stakeholders to discuss how to re-launch and scale up industrial recycling of batteries, as a result, they concluded a memorandum with six companies and plan to launch an organisation focusing on this.

Volunteer project “Batareyky Zdavaites” and six battery-importing companies signed the Memorandum of Cooperation. This is the first step towards industrial recycling of batteries in Ukraine. “It is necessary to create a system on the legislative level but it is a long process and we need a decision now. Thus we suggested establishing an organization dealing with collection and recycling right now. […] Six companies have agreed to sign the Memorandum – Philips, Duracel, Widex, Varta, Golden Power, Sefl Service, which deals with Duracel batteries, and a company that deals with GP batteries,” said Liubov Kolosovska, head of the project “Batareyky Zdavaites”, at a press briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. If everything goes well, the respective organization will appear in February 2017.

Liubov Kolosovska noted that currently Ukraine has no company engaged in the used batteries recycling. Despite great public demand, less than 1 percent of all batteries are given for recycling across the country. Previously, batteries collected by volunteer initiatives in more than 1,200 locations throughout Ukraine, were delivered to Lviv “Argentum” but the recycling has stopped and collected batteries have to be accumulated in storages “until better times come”.

Therefore, volunteers decided to present the issue for public consideration involving all stakeholders. About 70 stakeholders participated in the discussion.

The signing of the Memorandum was the result of the meeting which involved volunteers, 12 importers and other business representatives, in particular, the Lviv plant “Argentum” which had previously been engaged in recycling batteries, “GTM LTD” which is building an automated battery-sorting line, representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine and experts of the project “Twinning” of Austria, France and Bulgaria that help work out a draft law. Overall, the meeting was attended by about 70 people.

“Today’s meeting has shown that importers and state authorities listen to the public,” said Yevgeniya Aratovska, head of the NGO “Ukrayina BEZ Smittya”. “This proves that we can make a difference if we act effectively and learn best practices,” added Liubov Kolosovska.

A solution is to include money on recycling in the cost of a battery
The European experience offers to include money on collecting and recycling batteries in the cost of the batteries to make recycling profitable. According to Ms. Kolosovska, in Europe the recycling plants are paid extra EUR 400 per tonne. “Even 3 kopiykas in the cost of a battery generate more than UAH 5 million to the budget for organizing collection. But we should explore these options as Ukrainian and European plants have not yet provided the specific figures on the cost of recycling,” she noted.

Horizontal initiative will provide greater transparency
Yevgeniya Aratovska noted that the horizontal initiative in cooperation between the public and businesses will be a better solution than a state organization. “We had not very good precedent when Decree No. 915 was effective, and all environmental taxes were collected by the monopoly state organization. No one could control the money. Besides, neither sorting lines, recycling plants nor containers for separate collection were built,” she reminded. – Now the public will be able to get a full report on how much money has been received and how the money has been spent.” Yevgeniya Aratovska expressed hope that the project will be the first signs of arranging the recycling of other types of waste – packaging, electrical equipment and so on.

The volunteers reminded that those wishing to return batteries for recycling can do this in the nearest collection center, which they can find on the website. Everyone interested are invited to join the project and open their own batteries collection point. “All you need is a desire and a place for the container: in the school, office, and library. We can give you free posters, stickers, containers and instructions how to do this,” informed Kristina Govorukha, volunteers coordinator, project “Batareyky Zdavaites.” She noted that now the project involves 700 volunteers.