The EC Batteries Directive comes into force from 1 February next year and will require all retailers who sell more than 32kg of batteries a year to take cells back for recycling.
But while Morrisons last week announced it would become the first British supermarket to roll out battery recycling facilities in all its UK stores, the BRC has warned that retailers alone cannot carry the burden of meeting the EU target to increase UK battery recycling from the current level less than 3% to 25% by 2012 and 45% by 2016. It is also concerned about the amount of paperwork and extra road miles collection and recycling could generate.
"Only retailers are obligated to collect batteries, but it can't be left to them to achieve this on their own. If we are to meet these targets, additional collection methods are needed. Local authorities need to play their part by adopting kerb-side collection, and collecting at workplaces and in public buildings," said Bob Gordon, head of environment at the BRC.
The batteries will be collected from stores free of charge under a scheme funded by battery producers, including retailers who sell own-label batteries. However, the BRC is concerned that hazardous waste regulations may mean the process becomes expensive and environmentally unfriendly because producers and retailers will not be able to backhaul the batteries.
"If compliance schemes collect directly from stores, rather than distribution centres, they will make significantly more journeys. This will increase the cost and the environmental impact of the initiative," said Gordon.
"People will be required to use consignment notes [when hazardous waste is transported]. If you're doing that every four weeks from 2,000 stores, filling in three forms every time, that adds up to masses of bureaucracy."