In January, lithium batteries were added to the list of prohibited goods by the Royal Mail. As online sellers start using expensive couriers for delivery, could the cost of buying lithium batteries suddenly shoot up?
The Civil Aviation Authority and the Department of Transport have agreed new rules with Royal Mail to prohibit lithium batteries being sent via its postal network.
This means that lithium batteries, from the small coin cell types to the larger batteries found in your digital camera or smartphone, are no longer accepted by Royal Mail when sent in a package on their own. However, it’s still fine to send batteries in the post if they’re sent with, or contained within other equipment.
So, it’s fine to send a digital camera with a lithium battery inside it via Royal Mail, but it’s prohibited to send a battery on its own. And it’s fine to send lithium batteries by themselves as long as it’s not via Royal Mail. NiMH and other rechargeable batteries are not affected by the changes.
The price of lithium battery rules
Confused? I know I am – but these are the rules for the moment. And those who sell lithium batteries can no longer use Royal Mail, meaning they’ll have to pay extra to use courier services.
For example, one online shop I checked uses its express courier to ship orders containing lithium batteries at a cost of £5.99. So, if I wanted to buy a pack of five lithium coin cell batteries priced at £0.49, it would cost me £6.48!
Legislation is different in other countries, so if the batteries are sent from outside the UK, lithium batteries can still enter Royal Mail network. So how can Royal Mail enforce the rules? And is a little coin cell battery really that dangerous?
I wonder if the new rules might lead to a boom for high-street battery sales. But in the meantime, I just hope I don’t need a replacement battery for my camera or smartphone anytime soon.