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Study finds many Brussels expats unsure how to recycle batteries

22:02 02/12/2020

A study into Brussels expats' attitudes to recycling has found that more needs to be done to inform and encourage people to recycle their used batteries.

While knowledge of the city's recycling rules for paper, plastics and organic waste was relatively strong - and many of the participants considered themselves environmentally conscious - the poll found awareness about battery recycling was much lower.

The poll was carried out for Brussels Environment and battery recycling firm Bebat, in partnership with The Bulletin. More than 560 expats in Brussels, from almost 60 countries worldwide, took part - the majority of whom had been living in Belgium for at least six years.

More than eight in 10 respondents said they understood the waste recycling system in Brussels well, and a similar proportion knew that used batteries did not belong in the regular household waste bin.

However, half of the people taking part in the survey did not know that special battery recycling bags and boxes existed - and were unaware of the location of Bebat's used battery collection points.

Asked to guess how many batteries they had in their home, the average answer was 20. Previous research has suggested that people systematically under-estimate the number of batteries they own by a factor of one in four. So, in reality, we each have as many as 80 batteries in the house - either being used in appliances or dead, waiting to be recycled.

"The motivation to recycle is extensive," the study found. "In contrast, the knowledge of how to recycle properly in Belgium is not always there.

"Information about what to do with used batteries is harder to find than what to do with other types of waste. The effort required to dispose of used batteries is greater than other types, such as paper and aluminium cans."

Half of respondents said they would like to see more recycling points in places where expats commonly live and work. You can find your nearest battery recycling point on Bebat's Recycle! app for Apple and Android, or on this searchable map.

Written by The Bulletin