Improving measurement: exploring new metrics to help drive circularity in the UK’s waste electricals and portable battery systems.

New research identifies metrics that could help drive circularity in the UK’s waste electricals and portable battery systems.

Material Focus’ new research has identified a range of metrics that could improve the way the UK measures and assesses the efficiency of its waste electricals and portable batteries systems. Introducing these metrics would provide a more accurate and holistic view of the systems and help improve their performance in moving towards a circular economy.


The current UK producer responsibility regulations for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and for Waste Batteries require the producers of electricals and portable batteries to report what electricals and batteries they sell by weight and by type of product. The UK government uses this information to set collection and recycling targets and the regulations require producers to be responsible for financing the cost of collection, treatment, recycling and recovery of waste electricals and batteries. The measures proposed in this research may also assist regulators in making better informed and more targeted interventions to help deliver greater circularity in these sectors.


Material Focus commissioned Ricardo to “Measure the success of the UK’s waste electricals and waste portable battery systems”. The research identified that the current regulations are primarily focused on the weight of electricals that are recycled, with limited consideration and measurement of waste reduction options such as, reuse, repair, and refurbishment. In addition, weight-based targets overlook the impacts and importance of circular design (designing out waste and pollution whilst keeping products in use for longer), changes in design due to technological advances, and the efficiency and quality of the recycling processes and their material outputs.

A number of new metrics were identified to help improve the circularity of waste electricals and portable battery systems. Examples of these are:

  • Ongoing reporting of new electricals and batteries placed on the market by quantity as well as weight
  • New reporting of materials recovered by weight
  • Establishing national trackers to better understand consumer awareness and behaviours such as hoarding and binning of electricals and portable batteries.
  • Establishing a national system to record the number and type of drop-off points for used electricals and batteries across the UK

For more detail download the full research report, below. 

Material Focus - An evaluation of suitable metrics to measure the success of the UK's waste electricals and batteries system

Material Focus
23rd Feb 2023

Zoomed in on a device used for weighing heavy items in a warehouse with large doors open in the background. Metrics report cover.