The British Retail Consortium has welcomed legislation designed to make retailers collect batteries for recycling, but warned that plans to implement the law in the New Year were "unworkable", especially when they would have to deal with changes to VAT at the same time.
Speaking on behalf of the UK's retail chiefs, the BRC said that the industry welcomed the move, but warned that the start date of January 1st 2010 would put retailers under huge pressure at their busiest time of year.
"It is during most retailers' busiest time of the year and is precisely the same time they are expected to cope with the huge task of reversing last year’s VAT cut," the BRC said in a statement. "The BRC has already called on the Chancellor to use his Budget to announce he will delay the VAT increase by at least a month."
The body has called on the Environmental Agency to delay the implementation of the directive until April 6th 2010 so that retailers could bring in the systems needed to handle battery waste.
"This is the right aim but the wrong timing," said BRC director-general Stephen Robertson (pictured). "Retailers are happy to provide an in-store collection system but having it ready to go right in the middle of the vital Christmas and New Year sales period will be a nightmare."
He added that the Government had already missed the EU's implementation date of September 2008 so a further delay would not be unreasonable.
Robertson also warned that there are still holes in how online retailers will be expected to take part in the scheme. "Online retailers need to be clear how they meet their obligations and in-store collection must be just part of a consistent collection system that encompasses other types of waste. An April start-date would allow all involved to get this right."