European Parliament, Council /September 2006/ 28.09.2008, at the latest
European Union Directive, to be implemented by all EU Member States by their own means
Batteries and accumulators are an important source of energy in our days, but is not only that they are used on a huge scale, they are also turned into hazardous wastes at about the same rate. Hazards as those linked to heavy metals contained by batteries and accumulators are actually associated to their whole life cycle. Heavy metals, like cadmium, mercury or lead, that are contained in batteries and accumulators are hazardous to human health and environment. The primary objective of the Directive is to minimize the negative impact of batteries and accumulators and waste on the environment, thus contributing to the protection, preservation and improvement of the quality of the environment.
The Directive applies to all batteries and accumulators (except those used in equipment essential to Member States’ security and those for equipment designed to be sent to space).
The Directive prohibits the marketing of batteries and accumulators containing mercury or cadmium over specified threshold limits. This provision applies for batteries and accumulators regardless of whether or not they are incorporated into appliances, with the exception of those contained in emergency and alarm systems, medical equipment or cordless power tools.
The Commission shall review the exemption referred to cordless tools and submit a report to the European Parliament and to the Council by 26 September 2010, together, if appropriate, with relevant proposals and with a view to the prohibition of cadmium in batteries and accumulators (see point 7.1).
The Directive also contains measures for a high level of collection and recycling of batteries with quantified collection and recycling targets. The Directive also provides requirements for producer responsibility and provisions with regard to labelling of batteries and their removability from equipment.
According to Article 5, Member States which have manufacturers on their territory shall promote research and encourage improvements in the overall environmental performance of batteries and accumulators throughout their entire life cycle as well as the development and marketing of batteries and accumulators which contain smaller quantities of dangerous substances or which contain less polluting substances, in particular as substitutes for mercury, cadmium and lead.
The use of less polluting substances as well as other measures, may be promoted by Member States by economic instruments such as adopting differential tax rates, as stated in Article 9. If they do so, they shall notify the measures related to the implementation of those instruments to the Commission.
By requesting Member States to encourage the development and marketing of batteries and accumulators which contain less polluting substances, in particular safer alternatives to mercury, cadmium and lead, the Directive promotes substitution of hazardous substances ( for a study on cadmium substitution see point 7.1).
Companies should search for the existence of incentives at national level, including any differential taxes that may support their decision to substitute priority hazardous substances in batteries and accumulators. They should also analyse the appropriateness of substitution as alternative to measures to limit the hazardous heavy metal content in batteries and accumulators.
Last update: 01.08.2011