On behalf of Stichting Batterijen and Stichting EPAC, Stibat ensures the statutory responsibility to collect and recycle batteries is implemented for its affiliated producers (manufacturers and importers of batteries) in The Netherlands. This is a collective solution for producers of portable batteries, industrial batteries and bicycle batteries. We also officially register and report the weight of the batteries these producers put on the Dutch market to the government. The results of this are set out in this annual report.
BATTERIES PUT ON THE MARKET
In 2019, the number of batteries sold decreased slightly compared to 2018. This decrease was caused by corrections of manufacturers regarding their earlier statements and does not seem to indicate a break in the trend. Conversely, the number of bicycle batteries put on the market increased. This makes sense, as this is the second year in a row that more electric bicycles were sold than normal bicycles: a record number of 418 thousand new e-bikes. This is a 19.4-percent increase compared to 2018. The sold batteries and bicycle batteries are referred to as ‘Put On Market’, or POM for short.
- The POM (in kilos) of portable batteries is calculated by adding together all statements and corrected statements of the members of Stichting Batterijen.
- The POM (in kilos) of e-bike accumulators is calculated by adding together all statements and corrected statements of the members of Stichting EPAC.
Batteries and accumulators put on foreign markets by Dutch producers are not included in the statements and are therefore not included in the POM numbers.
Producers put batteries on the market and, through Stibat, make sure these batteries are collected and recycled again. For this service, they pay a management fee per battery. In accordance with the regulations (Management of Batteries and Accumulators Decree 2008 and the Management of Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2008), a company is considered a ‘producer’ if it is the first in the Netherlands to put the batteries in question on the market on a professional basis. This includes separate batteries and accumulators as well as integrated (in e-bikes) or included batteries and accumulators (in toys, tools and laptops, for example).
Increase lithium batteries in POM
In 2019, we observed an increase in the lithium battery component of the POM. This development has been going on for years. This increase has consequences for the transport and storage costs with regard to safety and statutory requirements. Furthermore, recycling lithium is more expensive than other materials in portable batteries, such as steel and copper. Stibat is keeping an eye on the fluctuations of the material components in the POM, so we can respond to them in a timely manner.
In case of e-bike accumulators, the entire POM consists of lithium-ion batteries. For more information, please refer to our whitepaper on lithium batteries.
Click here to access this.
Client satisfaction producers
The participants of our clients submit their statement of what they put on the Dutch market via our MyBatbase portal. Just like previous years, we asked them for their opinion on submitting the statement in 2019.
The survey consisted of questions about the time participants spent on the statement, any bottlenecks that occurred, suggestions for improvement, user friendliness of the portal and our service. The average grade our service received was an 8.1, and the average grade for the user friendliness of MyBatbase was a 7.8.
The annual survey always yields valuable information, allowing us to continue improving our service.
Each year, EY uses random sampling to check if Stichting Batterijen and Stichting EPAC members correctly submit their battery statements. These checks take place in the form of so-called verification visits. We use these to ensure thorough reporting to the ministry and a fair contribution by all members to cover the costs of the Stibat collection system.
Generally-binding regulation (AVV)
Since October 2018, an AVV has been in effect for Stichting Batterijen. An AVV, granted by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW) offers more options to ensure all producers (manufacturers and importers) in the Netherlands contribute to the collection and processing costs. On behalf of Stichting Batterijen, companies that are not affiliated yet and are therefore in violation are approached by Stibat. Enforcement takes place in consultation with the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate.
The application for an AVV for Stichting EPAC was started by Stibat in 2019 and has now been submitted. Based on this application, Rijkswaterstaat drafts a recommendation (draft decree) for the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management. This is followed by a notice in the Netherlands Government Gazette stating that the Minister intends to declare the draft decree generally binding. If no objection is made by the interested parties after six weeks, a definitive decree is published in the Netherlands Government Gazette.
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Stores or companies that sell portable batteries are legally required to take the used batteries back again. To facilitate this, Stibat currently maintains an intricate network of 25,517 collection points.
Collection points and collection methods
- Stibat currently has at least one collection point per 2,000 inhabitants in each municipality. In 2019, there was a slight dip in the number of collection points for used batteries and accumulators. This almost always had to do with the closure of store locations.
- Stibat works on the collection of batteries, energy-saving lamps and small electrical devices in collaboration with Wecycle. That way, batteries, energy-saving lamps and small electrical devices can be collected through a special collection method: a recognisable pillar. This increases the visibility of the collection points.
- In 2019, new collection points were placed at at both supermarkets and primary schools. These are more robust, more sustainable and more recognisable.
- In 2019, 1,610 bicycle dealers and/or bicycle mechanics had a collection method for used e-bike accumulators. In 2018, these numbered 1,550.
In 2019, safety was once more a priority for us. This requires commitment from all involved chain partners. The focus is on prevention. Based on the ADR regulations, various work and packaging instructions for batteries with visible damage were updated. In addition, the safety consultant performed audits on our transport vehicles. Everything was found to be in order.
No incidents or accidents were reported with regard to the transport of hazardous substances. In August 2019, a new EURAL guideline with updated rules for the transport of used lithium batteries was drafted.
In anticipation of the regulations for the storage of lithium batteries, various fire tests were performed with a new collection method for e-bike accumulators. Further development and implementation will take place in 2020.
Our pilot with an electric truck in the North Holland area was a success. Preparations were made for the roll-out of the ‘sustainable mobility and urban logistics’ project in the South Holland area in 2020.
In addition to our own collection activities, we work with professional collectors of commercial and industrial used batteries and accumulators. These collectors are WEELABEX certified and meet the national requirements for collection, storage, transport, recycling and reuse of e-waste. Thanks to these types of collaboration, we are able to gain a better overview of the total collection in the Netherlands.
In accordance with the legal calculation method in Europe, Stibat had a collection result of 50.6 percent for portable batteries in 2019. This meant Stibat achieved more than the 45-percent collection target.
The legal calculation method does not adequately take into account the ever longer lifespan of batteries resulting from the increase in the use of rechargeable lithium batteries. That is why Stichting Batterijen and Stichting EPAC, in the revision of the European legislation, are striving for a collection target based on the number of batteries and e-bike accumulators available for collection. After all, the collection percentage of 50.6 percent does not mean that the rest ended up in the environment. Batteries can still be on the shelves in stores or (in use) at the consumer’s home. Moreover, batteries often have a long lifespan, so the batteries collected today are from a time when less batteries were put on the market. In addition, batteries disappear from the chain as a result of export. In short, not all batteries are actually available for collection.
Developments and numbers
- In 2019, 4.60 million kilos of portable batteries were collected. In 2018, this number was 4.31 million kilos.
- In 2019, 251 thousand kilos of e-bike accumulators were collected. In 2018, this number was 373 thousand kilos. Last year saw a spike as we collected a one-time, large batch of used e-bike accumulators.
- More and more commercial parties pick up used e-bike accumulators from bicycle dealers and mechanics. In addition, the refurbishment, reuse and repair market is on the rise. The result of this is that the useful life of e-bike accumulators is increasing, which means the number available for collection is decreasing.
- In addition to our intricate collection, the bulk collection increased as well. The awareness at companies has increased, and more waste is separated.
- In 2019, we collected 258 thousand kilos of batteries using electric transport in the North Holland area. The effect of this cleaner method of collection was measured in 2018: it saved 60 thousand kilos of CO2. This perfectly fits our aim to work as sustainably as possible, which is why we continued to apply this method in 2019.
- In 2019, we took all collected batteries to our sorting centre outside the Randstad. Starting 2020, we will work with three sorting centres in various regions. This is more efficient (fewer transport kilosmetres) and more sustainable (fewer emissions).
- In 2019, Stibat founded Reneos in collaboration with Batteriretur in Norway, Bebat in Belgium and COBAT in Italy. This organisation focusses on the collection of used batteries for electric vehicles (from trucks to scooters), forklifts, cleaning machines and stationary energy storage units. Reneos makes overarching European agreements for the collection and recycling of batteries, after which the abovementioned organisations in the country in which the accumulator is discarded will implement these agreements.
Featured: e-bike accumulators
E-bike accumulators are industrial batteries. There is no minimum collection result for these yet. Nonetheless, Stibat expanded the national collection network at bicycle dealers, bicycle mechanics and recycling points in 2019. Because of this, consumers can dispose of their used accumulators close to their homes. We have observed a steadily rising trend from the start of the collection of e-bike accumulators in 2014. We have also observed a shift: the bulk collection is increasing compared to the intricate collection at bicycle dealers and bicycle mechanics.
The statutory minimum recycling percentages are: lead-acid batteries 65 percent, nickel-cadmium batteries 75 percent and other batteries 50 percent (including lithium batteries). The percentages are calculated by dividing the output fraction (quantity of raw materials after recycling in kilos) by the input fraction (number of batteries recycled in kilos) and expressing the result in percentages. The numbers have been virtually stable in the past years as new and improved recycling techniques were implemented recently.
Our objective is to regain as many raw materials as possible from the collected batteries and accumulators. The first important step after collection takes place in our sorting centres. Employees remove anything that does not belong in the sorting process. This includes packaging, waste, electronics and lights. The batteries are sorted by size manually and with a shaker and grouped by type and chemical composition.
The sorted batteries and accumulators are transported to various certified recyclers in Europe. Using a mechanical, chemical or thermal process, they extract the valuable materials, such as zinc, iron, nickel, copper, manganese and small quantities of lithium and cobalt. Various substances from the battery that are not specifically extracted end up in slugs: a type of rock that is created during the thermal process. These slugs are also reused, in road construction, for example.
Stibat developed the Ecotest to gain a detailed image of the performance of the entire recycling chain. This test shows that the Netherlands avoided 3 million kilos of CO2 emissions in 2019, as well as the emission of 49 million kilos of toxic substances.
Featured: recycling of lithium-ion batteries
The recycling of lithium-ion batteries comes with various challenges. There is a good reason why the recycling result of this type of battery decreased somewhat in 2019 compared to 2018.
- The variety of materials in each separate cell makes identifying and separating the raw materials increasingly difficult.
- Even within similar cells, the chemical composition of the active materials, especially the cathode, varies for each manufacturer and battery function. This means we are missing both the uniformity and standardisation required for a single, efficient recycling process.
- A lithium-ion battery (accumulator) may even catch fire if treated inadequately, which means useful materials may be lost. This means the extraction of the materials cost more than it yields.
- The reduced application of cobalt, for example, affects the yield of the recycled materials.
- The removal of the battery from a casing could be difficult.
- Extracting lithium is possible, but it is a costly process.
Communication with end users is part of the statutory requirements we fulfil on behalf of our clients. The collection result is determined in part by the effect of our diverse communication to influence the awareness and the behaviour of our various target groups.
INTERNET AND RADIO
The Stibat.nl and Legebatterijen.nl websites make up the base of our (online) communication.
Stibat.nl is meant for business purposes. Members and partners of Stichting Batterijen and Stichting EPAC can go here to find information about regulations, the Stibat Services method, press releases and information on ways storeowners can safely handle used and/or collected batteries and accumulators, for example.
Legebatterijen.nl is meant for consumers and schoolchildren. This website offers accessible and playful information on the separated collection of used batteries. Consumers can also use it to find the nearest collection point. In addition, we use it to announce contests and events. Moreover, legebatterijen.nl offers information for primary schools regarding the school programme, as well as downloadable courses and educational games.
We use social media to reach specific target groups. The interaction in 2019 was once more enormous, especially on Facebook. Through proper community management, we responded to the many comments and answered all questions. We regularly upload blogs, animations, videos, games, contests and interesting facts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In 2019, we started our BatterijHelden Instagram account. This is fully aimed at children, a target group we could barely reach through other social media channels before. The results show the following:
- 16.9 million consumers reached (+44.6 percent compared to 2018)
- 3.5 million unique reach (+23 percent compared to 2018)
- 4.8 average contact frequency (+17.4 percent compared to 2018)
- 49,918 fans on reference date 31 December 2019 (-1.2 percent compared to 2018)
In 2019, our radio spot had the theme ‘Samen sparen we de wereld’ (We can save the world together). The spot was broadcast on 5 radio stations: Radio538, Qmusic, SkyRadio, SlamFM en Radio10. The objective of the campaign: informing consumers about the collection points and encouraging them to take their empty batteries to these points. We managed to reach 5.35 million people. They heard the Stibat radio spot 26.4 times on average. At the end of the year, we evaluated the campaign. The results show the following:
- Environmental awareness of consumers has stayed the same compared to 2018: 92 percent.
- Awareness of the slogan “Waar je ze koopt, kun je ze kwijt” (Hand them in where you bought them) has increased from 44 to 51 percent.
- Awareness of Stibat has increased from 23 to 29 percent.
- Awareness of legebatterijen.nl has increased from 10 to 17 percent.
- Consumers considered the radio campaign clear and comprehensive.
CAMPAIGNS AND EVENTS
‘Lever ze in en win’ (Hand them in and win!)
In 2019, we continued the successful incentive campaign “Lege batterijen? Lever ze in en WIN!” (Empty batteries? Hand them in and WIN!). Each month had 104 winners, including one main prize winner. The main prize was awarded each month by Stibat icon Henk. Videos of this appeared on the website of legebatterijen.nl, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn. This generates extra attention for our campaign and encourages battery collection. The press releases in the media of the regions the 103 normal winners live in generate a lot of free publicity every month. In 2019, 496 thousand kilos of (bags of) batteries were handed in as a result of this continuous promotion.
Through the promotions in malls, we were personally able to point the importance of separated battery collection out to consumers. This also allowed us to raise awareness for the various collection points. The promotions took place throughout the country, but focussed on municipalities with below-average collection results for optimum effect. This allowed us to gain a lot of ground. A total of about 36 thousand Battery Boxes were handed out during these promotions.
The Battery Box is an aesthetically-appealing method to help consumers store their empty batteries in a single place in their house and hand them in afterwards. In 2019, we distributed over 58 thousand boxes via the Huishoudbeurs, mall promotions, contests and our webstore. The boxes come with an informative flyer, which also covers the national ‘Lever ze in en WIN’ promotion. That way, we encourage the collection behaviour of the reached and interested consumers.
Educational programme for primary schools
The Stibat educational programme for primary schools is still a big success. Through this campaign, schools contribute to a better environment and save for neat school supplies. Moreover, in 2019, we developed a ‘welcome package’ with tools to inform parents, children and employees about collection at school. The about 5 thousand participating primary schools collected over 88 thousand kilos of batteries together in 2019.
In 2019, Stibat had a stand at two large events: the Huishoudbeurs and the Tina Festival. The focus: to inform, to be visible, to engage in interaction and to collect batteries.
This year, the Huishoudbeurs was a big success once again. Visitors could play a ‘charging quiz’ and, as always, they could win great prizes by handing in as many batteries as possible. This resulted in no less than 2,924 kilos of collected batteries. One visitor set an absolute record by handing in 38,420 batteries.
The Tina Festival was our first. Our beauty team and the meet & greet with an influencer drew a lot of attention. Thanks to a contest, we collected 5 full barrels of empty batteries, but the primary focus of the weekend was informing young girls about the importance of handing in batteries. A great investment in the future!