Batteries – very hazardous waste in Montenegro

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Although about 50 tons of batteries enter Montenegro every year and are consumed, only a few hundred kilograms are returned abroad through authorized companies for recycling or safe disposal. Most end up in municipal waste, which poses a huge risk to the environment and human health. Distributors and sellers, despite the legal obligation transcribed from the EU, generally do not take over used batteries in places where new ones are procured, and there are few recycling centers that do that – the research of CIN-CG / Monitor showed. As in EU legislation, so in domestic legislation, batteries are treated as hazardous waste. They can contain dangerous substances – lead, cadmium and mercury. Heavy metals have far-reaching negative effects on the environment and human health. In the process of decomposition and decomposition, heavy metals go into the ground, but also into groundwater, and then into the food chain. On the other hand, if they burn, heavy metals reach the air in the form of small particles, and further back into the soil and water.

Batteries, accumulators, soot, waste from paints, varnishes and glues, motor oils, pecticides …, are some of the hazardous wastes with which we are often in contact, reminds biologist Vuk Iković from the Organization KOD. He reminds that fines for mixing waste and improper disposal range from 1,000 to 40,000 euros. The Environmental Inspectorate, however, does not have precise data on the fines imposed, which, judging by the answers to the CIN-CG / Monitor questions, mainly relate to the illegal collection and handling of batteries for motor vehicles and other purposes.

During 2018 and 2019, according to the data of the Customs Administration (UC), more than 1.3 million primary batteries were imported. The difference between primary and secondary batteries is that secondary batteries can be recharged, while primary ones have a significantly shorter shelf life. Monstat data differ somewhat from the UC and show that more than 700,000 primary batteries were imported in 2018, 875 thousand in 2019, and 716 thousand from January to November last year. Batteries for motor vehicles and other purposes are imported significantly more: in 2018 – 4.7 million, in 2019 – 4.4 million, and from the beginning to November last year, 3.5 million. It is certain that a part of the batteries intended for the household arrives outside the customs procedure and is sold outside the official flows at the markets and flea markets. Monstat has no data or estimate on how many disposable batteries a household consumes per year, as well as on the amount of batteries and accumulators that end up in the waste, they told CIN-CG / Monitor.

Vasilije Seferović, executive director of DOO Čistoća Herceg Novi, told CIN-CG / Monitor to collect about 330 kilograms of batteries a year. But, they specify, these are exclusively batteries that Purity uses in the process of work. They do not select batteries from the total amount of waste that is collected, and they are not registered for that.

That the awareness of hazardous waste disposal is not sufficiently developed is also shown by the data of the Waste Management Department of Čistoća d.o.o. Podgorica. From January to the end of October last year, only 62 kilograms of batteries were disposed of in the six recycling yards they manage. In the absence of a sustainable end market for recyclable products, or if a detailed environmental, agricultural and social impact assessment finds that recycling is not the best solution, EU countries may dispose of waste portable batteries containing cadmium, mercury or lead in landfills or in landfills. underground warehouses. Management of this type of waste in Montenegro is regulated by the Law on Waste Management. For the time being, only Hemosan has received a permit for the export of hazardous waste this year, according to the data from the website of the Environmental Protection Agency. During the last year, in addition to this company, Valgo Montenegro (for the export of land and stone containing hazardous substances), Matej – Cetinje (for waste mineral oils) and SS Alga Nikšić (for waste lead batteries filled with acid) had permits. Most often, waste batteries are exported to Austria, Slovenia, Serbia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. According to the current classification, the Agency does not have data on how much it refers to household batteries. The Agency notes that there is no official company in Montenegro that deals with the processing (processing) of batteries and lead batteries. Hemosan explains that the recycling process involves a physical process of treating spent batteries and usually consists of “sorting, magnetic separation, disassembly and grinding (crushing)”. Metal residues can be processed by various processes, pyrometallurgical or hydrometallurgical. The products of these processes are metal alloys or solutions containing metal ions.

In the National Strategy for the Implementation and Application of the Acquis Communautaire in the Field of Environment 2016-2020. It is pointed out that “in the waste management system, the basic principles on which waste management in the EU is based have not yet been fully implemented in Montenegro, although they are integrated into the National 25th Waste Management Strategy and the National Waste Management Plan”. This document states that the requirements set out in Directive 93/86 / EEC (labeling of batteries) of 1993 have not been complied with, and in part of Directive 2006/66 / EC (batteries and accumulators) of 2006. The most important objective of the 2006 Directive is that “Member States, taking into account the impact on the environment, shall take the necessary measures to ensure, as far as possible, the separate collection of waste batteries and accumulators and to reduce the disposal of batteries and accumulators as mixed municipal waste with a view to achieving a high level of recycling all waste batteries and accumulators ”. The lowest collection rates to be achieved by member states are also prescribed: 25 percent by September 26, 2012, 45 percent by 2016. Montenegro has practically not even started yet. The data published by the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism in December last year in the National Plan for the Implementation of the Minimate Convention on Mercury for the period 2021-2025 also show that something needs to be done urgently. It states that the main source of mercury discharge is illegal disposal of municipal waste (940 kg of mercury per year) and waste disposal (692 kg of mercury per year). According to the Decree on the manner and procedure of establishing a system for taking over, collecting and processing hazardous batteries and accumulators from June 2012, distributors have numerous obligations that they obviously do not respect. At the point of sale, they should pick up waste portable batteries and accumulators free of charge, regardless of their origin and without conditioning the purchase of a new portable battery or accumulator. Containers for separate collection and temporary storage of collected waste portable batteries and accumulators should be placed and visibly marked.