The development of any program aimed at reducing the impact on the environment by a product, a chemical or a substance in general should follow some basic rules that have been issued by OECD under the generic term of Environmental Indicators (OECD Publications-1998).
These indicators can be global, sectorial and/or economic, nevertheless they are aimed at the realistic follow-up of a given situation.
Prior to any elaboration of a program and of the follow-up of this program by environmental indicators, it is necessary to fix the rules of the system. In particular, it is needed to:
- have an agreement between the parties with a mutual understanding of the concepts and the definitions based on the so-called PSR - Pressure-State-Response - system,
have an identification of criteria which will validate the choice made for the parameters to be used in the indicators follow-up, have a mutually agreed basis on criteria for (among others) the political justification, the analytical accuracy and the accessibility to measurements, - have established instructions relatives to the measurements of data, the collection of parameters and the calculation of indicators.
It is obvious that the evaluation of the collection and recycling efficiency of Ni-Cd batteries, and of portable Ni-Cd batteries in particular, is a difficult task to achieve. This is the reason why an agreement should not be signed if there is not a well documented and mutual understanding of the definition of data to acquire, parameters to evaluate and criteria like: collection rates, quantities available for collection, quantity found in municipal waste, recycling rates, hoarding, etc.
Certainly, the methodology to adopt to evaluate the quantity of Ni-Cd batteries found in MSW becomes a critical parameter. The methodology to follow in order to measure this parameter is of prime importance.
For instance, STIBAT has made this evaluation based on the quantities of batteries found in the small iron fraction of sorted municipal waste. In France, the campaign did measure the battery presence after mechanical sorting of the materials contents from garbage bags using a differential gravity technology.
Can both results be compared? Can both methodologies be used? Are they complementary for our objective?
The knowledge of the practise of waste management by consumers is a recent issue. Not all parameters of this dynamic process are known. It has been demonstrated in this chapter that there is no direct correlation between the quantity of rechargeable batteries (and equipment) purchased during one year and the quantity that are discarded or taken back to a collection centre.
Data needs to be accumulated on an european basis on the quantity of batteries present in temporary storage at home and on the motivations of the consumer to eliminate these products from his daily environment.
One can only draw definite conclusions on these issues when all parameters of the mass balance will be known. These include: the presence of batteries in home storage, the composition of MSW and of industrial solid waste, the quantities collected and processed separately and with other streams, etc.
During the last years, the rechargeable battery industry has started a significant data acquisition program at the european level: the first results of this program are presented in this chapter. They demonstrate that this industry is responsible for introducing those products on the market and for securing their management in the most environmentally friendly way at their end of life.
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