On behalf of the Stichting Batterijen and Stichting EPAC, Stibat Services ensues the statutory producer responsibility is fulfilled. It is a collective solution for producers and importers of portable and industrial and bike batteries. In addition to carrying out the essential compliance tasks, we, on behalf of the producers, take care of the mandatory registration and reporting to the government of the weight of the batteries and accumulators they put on the Dutch market each year, as well as the weight of batteries that have been collected. The results of this are set out in this annual report.
BATTERIES PUT ON THE MARKET
In 2020, the number of batteries and accumulators put on the market increased significantly compared to 2019. Sales of batteries and devices with built-in batteries and accumulators rose sharply in the ‘corona year’, partly due to the increase in the number of online sales, the many people working from and recreating at home.
The number of bike batteries put on the market also increased. This is in line with the trend we saw in previous years: for the third year in a row, more electric bikes were sold than regular bikes. It concerns a record number of more than 553 thousand new bike batteries. That’s an increase of 32 percent compared to 2019.
We refer to marketed (bike) batteries as Put On Market, abbreviated to POM.
About producers and management contributions for batteries
Producers and importers put batteries and accumulators on the Dutch market. Stibat Services ensures these batteries and accumulators are also collected and recycled. Producers pay a management fee for every battery they put on the market.
In accordance with laws and regulations (Batteries and Accumulators (Management) Decree 2008 and the Batteries and Accumulators (Management) Regulation 2008), a company is regarded as a ‘producer’ if it is the first in the Netherlands to market the batteries concerned professionally. This concerns loose batteries and accumulators, but also built-in or supplied batteries and accumulators.
Increase in lithium batteries in POM
In 2020, we saw an increase in the share of lithium batteries in the POM. This development has been going on for years because of the great benefits for the end user.
Verification visits by the accountant
Every year, EY’s accountants randomly visit participants of Stichting Batterijen and Stichting EPAC. Their aim is to determine whether the participants’ battery notifications are correct. This is done via what we refer to as verification visits. As such, we guarantee meticulous reporting to the ministry and a fair contribution from all participants to the costs of the Stibat Services collection system. In 2020 too, EY made more than 60 verification visits and based on their findings, participants improved their notifications.
Customer satisfaction producers
The participants of our clients notify us of what they have put on the Dutch market, in numbers of portable and industrial batteries put on the market, specified by chemical system and weight. Participants with a relatively low POM can submit a simplified notification. The notification is submitted on our myBatbase portal. As in previous years, in 2020, we asked for the opinion of participants about submitting the notification. The response to the survey was 72.4%.
The survey consisted of questions about how much time participants spend on the notification, any bottlenecks, suggestions for improvements, the user-friendliness of the portal and our services. The average score for our service was 8.2 ((out of 10) 8.3 according to participants who submit a simplified notification) and the average score for the user-friendliness of MyBatbase was 7.7 (8.0 according to participants who submit a simplified notification).
Participants praise our personal approach, appreciate the quick response to questions and believe we solve their problems correctly and quickly.
This annual survey always provides valuable information, which allows us to continue to improve our services. More about the survey can be found here.
Shops or businesses that sell portable batteries or accumulators are by law obliged to take back discarded batteries. Stibat Services currently maintains an intricate collection network of over 25,000 collection points in the Netherlands.
Collection points and means of collection
- Stibat Services currently has at least one collection point per 2,000 inhabitants in every town or city. In 2020, there was a slight increase in the number of collection points for discarded batteries and accumulators.
- In 2020 1,671 bike dealers and/or bike repair shops used a means of collecting used bike batteries. In 2019, that figure was 1,610.
- Stibat Services again collaborated with Wecycle in 2020 on the collection of batteries, energy-saving light bulbs and small electrical appliances. End users can dispose of them in a recognisable pillar. This special means of collection increases the visibility of the collection points.
- In 2020, we welcomed new collection points (in shops, at businesses and schools) and we properly instructed the existing centres. Every year, we maintain contact with the head offices and popular retail chains and think along about their wishes and needs.
Safety and PGS-37
Safety was again high on our agenda in 2020, with the main focus on prevention. The primary responsibility for Stibat Services in the field of safety is that of its ‘own’ collection channel. We have worked on this in a structured and structural way. Within the safety rules, we deal with the storage and transport of portable batteries and accumulators. We believe it is important that our chain partners use the same standards as we do.
As every year, we adhere to the ADR regulations: the pan-European treaty for the international transport of hazardous goods by road. To this end, we have audits carried out on our transport vehicles. Everything was found to be in order in 2020 as well. No incidents or accidents were reported in connection with the transport of hazardous goods.
In 2020, the new storage guideline for lithium batteries will be further developed: the Publication Series on Hazardous Substances (PGS-37). The PGS-37 determines which rules you must comply with to store lithium batteries. In the summer of 2020, the ‘Circular on risk management for lithium-ion energy carriers’ was presented as a precursor to the PGS-37. In this circular, advice is given to increase safety in the vicinity of the applications of lithium-ion energy carriers. We are continuously monitoring the development of this important guideline to ensure safety in our collection network is paramount, while at the same time keeping it easy for end users to return their batteries.
In anticipation of the regulations regarding the storage of lithium batteries, various fire tests were carried out with a new collection method for bike batteries. Further development and implementation will take place in 2021.
Decentralised and more efficient collection
In 2020, the intricate collection focused on efficient logistics in the urban environment. For the regions in the Randstad conurbation, the possibilities for decentralised collection have been examined.
Our pilot with an electric truck turned out to be a success in the Amsterdam and North Holland regions, after which we further rolled out the ‘sustainable mobility and city logistics’ project in the South Holland region in 2020. Here too, decentralised collection resulted in fewer transport movements and a higher stop density, enabling cost efficiency to be realised. For the coming years, we have more areas in our sights that would benefit from an area-oriented approach, for example the regions of North Brabant and Limburg. The implementation of Zero-emission City Logistics in 2025 plays an important role in this.
In addition, in 2021 we will continue to develop safe and efficient means of collection, tailored to the type of customer and batteries, and which meet the latest safety requirements (ADR/PGS-37).
To ensure the collection process runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible, we devoted attention to delivery quality in 2020 and tightened up our acceptance policy. The purer the delivery quality, the more efficiently we can sort and process.
In 2020, we held awareness training with the operations team and successfully so. We all obtained the certificate, which shows we are well aware of ADR transport in the field of safe and responsible collection. In addition, we are in regular contact with our safety consultants to identify current developments and challenges in the market, we provide advice and we contribute ideas about tailor-made solutions.
According to the legal calculation method in Europe, in 2020, Stibat Services had a collection result of 48.1 percent for portable batteries and accumulators. This means the statutory target of 45 percent collection has been amply achieved.
The collection rate is determined as follows: we divide the collected weight of one year by the average of the POM over the past three years.
- I.e.: we divide the collected weight of 2020 by the average of the POM 2020, the POM 2019 and the POM 2018.
- According to European legislation, the result of that calculation must be above 45%. That percentage was achieved in 2020.
Limited processing and storage capacity
2020 was a special year. After a ‘normal’ start, the world changed from March due to the corona pandemic. The European processing capacity for lithium batteries and accumulators temporarily came to a standstill. From 25 March to 27 April, no bike batteries were collected. Contracted recyclers temporarily closed their doors or adapted their processes. This caused the discharge process to stop and the storage capacity at our sorting centres had to be expanded. In collaboration with various partners of Stibat Services, this has resulted in secure additional storage space and new processing channels. By switching quickly as an organisation and using the power of our network, our services were quickly resumed. As a result, impact and delays were limited. Within the spheres of influence of Stibat Services, we will continue to work on a more stable processing chain for lithium batteries in 2021.
Batteries and accumulators are lasting longer due to the increase in the use of rechargeable lithium batteries. The current statutory calculation method does not take this sufficiently into account. That is why in the event of revised European regulations, Stichting Batterijen and Stichting EPAC are aiming for a collection target that is based on the number of (bike) batteries available for collections.
Explanation: this year’s collection rate (48.1 percent) does not mean the remaining percentage of batteries has ended up in the environment. They can still be on shop shelves or at home (in use) with the consumer. Batteries and accumulators, especially lithium batteries, often have a lifespan of many years. This means that today’s collected batteries and accumulators come from a time when fewer batteries were put on the market. In addition, batteries and accumulators are disappearing from the chain due to export. In short: not all batteries and accumulators are actually available for collection.
Developments and figures
- In 2020, we collected 4.68 million kilos of portable batteries and accumulators. In 2019, this was 4.60 million kilos.
- In 2020, we collected 225 thousand kilos of bike batteries. In 2019, this was 251 thousand kilos.
- In addition to the intricate collection, bulk collection has also increased. Awareness among companies has increased; they know where to find Stibat Services.
- In 2020, we added a new carrier to our network for intricate collection. This allows us to respond more flexibly to market needs and the changing world.
- In 2020, we collected 276 thousand kilos of batteries and accumulators via electric transport in the regions of North Holland and South Holland. In 2019 that was 258 thousand (only in the North Holland region). The effect of this cleaner collection method is measured in kilos of CO2 saved: 38 thousand kilos. This is in line with our aim to operate as sustainably as possible. That is why we will continue this collection method in 2021 and beyond.
Featured: bike batteries
Bike batteries fall under industrial batteries. No mandatory minimum collection result is in place for this yet. Nevertheless, in 2020, Stibat Services expanded its national collection network at bike dealers, bike repair shops and recycling centres. This allows end users to dispose of their waste batteries close to home.
Since 2018, we have seen a decline in the total number of bike batteries collected by Stibat Services. First of all, this has to do with the fact that bike batteries stay ‘away’ longer than expected: they last longer and individual broken cells can be replaced. In addition, the number of commercial parties that collect discarded bike batteries from bike dealers and bike repair shops is growing. Moreover, the market for refurbishment, re-use and repair is growing strongly. The result of this is that the useful life of bike batteries increases and fewer are available for collection.
The transport and storage of lithium batteries and bike batteries require particular attention: we are by law obliged to organise this safely and responsibly, and that requires stricter measures compared to other portable batteries and accumulators. Also, recycling lithium is more expensive than the other metals in portable batteries, such as copper.
The legal producer responsibility that we implement as Stibat Services also includes the recycling of various types of portable batteries and bike batteries.
These percentages were amply achieved in 2020. They are calculated by dividing the output fraction (amount of raw materials after recycling in kilos) by the input fraction (amount of batteries and accumulators recycled in kilos) and expressing the result in percentages. The figures have been virtually stable in recent years.
COVID-19 has had an effect on the recycling chain of batteries and accumulators. Several processors have completely stopped the supply of batteries and accumulators, with has had an impact on the rest of the chain. The pressure on our storage capacity at sorting partners and therefore on the entire collection process increased sharply. Nevertheless, we have also met the statutory minimum recycling percentages in 2020
Our goal is to recover as many raw materials as possible from the collected (bike) batteries and accumulators. The first important step after collection takes place in our sorting centres. Staff remove everything that does not belong in the sorting process. This includes packaging, waste, electronics and lamps. The batteries and accumulators are sorted by size and grouped into different types and chemical compositions by hand and with a shaking sieve.
In 2020, we collaborated with three sorting centres with a view to sustainability and logistical efficiency (fewer transport kilometres, fewer emissions). Thanks in part to these collaborations, the pressure on the limited storage options and recycling processing was also relieved.
Recycling and recycling capacity
The sorted (bike) batteries and accumulators are taken to various certified recyclers in Europe. They recover valuable metals such as zinc, iron, nickel, copper and manganese, but also lithium and cobalt via a mechanical, chemical or thermal process. Various substances from the battery and accumulator that are not specifically recovered end up in slag: a type of rock that is formed during the thermal process. This slag is also reused, for example, in road construction.
Battery recycling is important to reduce demand for metals for the production of new batteries and accumulators. In the coming years, a first and logical start will be with bike batteries. With the over 540 thousand e-bikes that are now bought new every year, over 1.600 tons of Li-ion batteries are also added every year. In five years’ time, this will lead to a stable flow of batteries and accumulators that are ready for recycling. In about 10 years’ time, approximately 7,000 tons of batteries are expected to be released from cars in the Netherlands, an amount that will grow sharply with batteries and accumulators from buses and trucks. This requires an explicit upscaling of the current recycling capacity.
Qualitative recycling partners
Stibat Services ensures we always use the latest and most efficient recycling technologies (which do not cause excessive costs) with the aim of recycling as many metals as possible with the greatest environmental benefit. Stibat Services only works with government-approved recyclers who meet the strictest standards. Every year, Stibat Services reports in detail whether the prescribed recycling efficiency has been achieved and whether the correct processes have been followed via the Ecotest.
Stibat Services developed the Ecotest for a detailed picture of performance throughout the recycling chain in terms of recycling efficiency and environmental performance. This test shows that in the Netherlands in 2020, we avoided 2.4 million kilos of CO2 emissions and prevented the emission of 40 million kilos of toxic substances.
In 2020, communication may have been more important than ever. In addition to our regular activities (campaigns, events, website, social media, mailings), we paid a lot of attention to the development of a new communication strategy that we will roll out in 2021.
Communication with end users is part of the statutory obligation we fulfil on behalf of our clients. Our statements play a role in the collection result. Moreover, we want to positively influence the awareness and behaviour of our various target groups.
Campagnes and events in 2020
‘Lever ze in en win!’
In 2020, we continued the successful incentive campaign “Lege batterijen? Lever ze in en WIN!”, encouraging people to hand in empty batteries with the chance of winning a prize. The prize winners are drawn by Jongejan Wisseborn Gerechtsdeurwaarders and Stibat icon Henk hands out the main prize every month. We capture this happy moment with a vlog camera, after which we publish videos every month on legebatterijen.nl and distribute them via social media. The press releases to the media of the regions where the 103 regular prize winners live generate a lot of free publicity every month. In 2020, 496 thousand kilos of batteries (in bags) were handed in.
From 2021, our successful campaign will be renamed: ‘Lege batterijen? Lever ze in en geef ze een nieuw begin!’, shifting the focus from winning to rewarding and emphasising environmental awareness.
Battery Storage Boxes
The Battery Storage Box enables consumers to store their empty batteries in one place in the house. In 2020, we distributed more than 29 thousand Battery Storage Boxes for consumers via the home exhibition, webshop and (online) campaigns. An informative flyer is included with the storage boxes, in which we also highlight the national giveaway ‘Lever ze in en WIN!’.
Business Battery Storage Boxes
In 2020, we officially introduced the Business Battery Storage Box at the Facility & Building Management trade fair. This business storage box is a convenient aid for collecting batteries in the office, and has been specially developed for businesses and institutions that recognise the importance of separate collection of discarded batteries and accumulators. The Business Storage Box is a success: more than 12 hundred Storage Boxes were distributed in 2020.
Facility & Building Management trade fair
Nearly 13 thousand facility managers attended the Facility and Building Management trade fair. Our participation, at the end of January 2020, was successful. Main goal: to bring maximum attention to the Business Battery Storage Box and to distribute it as widely as possible. 159 businesses applied for one or more boxes. A total of 538 Business Storage Boxes were sent.
The home exhibition has been the most successful consumer fair for Stibat Services for many years. The fair took place from Saturday 22 February to Sunday 1 March 2020 (more than 186 thousand visitors). The purpose of our participation: creating awareness and remaining in the spotlight.
- Result: a collected weight of 3,629 kilos of batteries.
- One visitor set an absolute record by returning 18,010 empty batteries.
EDUCATION PROGRAMME PRIMARY SCHOOLS
The Stibat education programme for primary schools is still a success. With the collection project, schools contribute to a better environment and they save for wonderful school items. We also offer teaching materials for primary schools via a free download with online search maps, a quiz, PDF worksheets and a teacher’s manual. The educational theatre show is a new aspect in 2020. In 2020, more than 45 hundred participating primary schools collectively collected approximately 77 thousand kilos of batteries.
Educational theatre show
- In this funny and educational show, we take students into the world of empty batteries in an interactive way. We also explain why it is so important to collect and recycle them.
- Primary schools can book the theatre show free of charge.
WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Stibat Services uses two websites and two social media channels on different platforms to reach its target group. In 2020, we started communicating about the safe collection of bike batteries.
- Stibat.nl focuses on the participants of Stichting Batterijen and Stichting EPAC. We provide information about regulations, how Stibat Services works, the latest news and instructions on how retailers and businesses handle discarded and/or returned batteries and accumulators safely.
- At legebatterijen.nl, consumers can find information about the usefulness and necessity of separately returning discarded batteries and accumulators. Their nearest drop-off point is also listed on the site. Primary schools can also find the educational programme and teaching materials on this website.
- We come into contact with specific target groups through social media. We have 2 channels: empty batteries (targeted at consumers) and Battery Heroes (targeted at children). The interaction was also great in 2020. With good community management, we respond to the many comments and answer all questions. We regularly post blogs, animations, videos, games, contests and interesting facts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- In 2020, we started communicating about the importance of safe and responsible handling of bike batteries, and the usefulness and necessity of returning discarded batteries. These messages achieved a high level of interaction and aroused interest among consumers.
- 15.3 million impressions
- 2.3 million unique reach
- 6.6 average contact frequency
- 48,959 fans on the reference date 31 December 2020
DEVELOPMENT OF NEW COMMUNICATION STRATEGY
To increase the collection of portable batteries and accumulators, preparations were started in 2020 to renew the communication strategy. We want to provide consumers with more information about the recycling value of batteries and accumulators. This will motivate them more to hand in their discarded batteries and accumulators and not to dispose of them with residual waste. We will roll out the new strategy in 2021.
Publications in the ‘tweewieler’ trade journal
Not every bike dealer is familiar with Stibat Services and our free services. Also, not every bike dealer knows they have a legal obligation when they sell electric bikes (and bike batteries). That is why we communicated about this in 2020 in the trade magazine ‘Tweewieler’. With 2 advertorials and 3 advertisements, the results were above expectations:
- 34 new registrations from bike dealers
- Conversion rate of 52.2%
- 35 hundred bike dealers reached via Tweewieler Magazine