Batteries in European Union

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The Battery Directive 2006/66/EC of 6 September 2006, as amended twice in 2008 and once in 2013, is aimed at harmonizing Member States' national laws, and at minimizing the negative impact of batteries and accumulators and their waste on the environment. It had to be implemented by European Member States by 26 September 2008. All Member States have implemented it without significant deviations.

The European Commission is conducting an evaluation of the EU Batteries Directive to assess the implementation of the Directive and its impact on the environment and the functioning of the internal market. This ex-post evaluation commenced in the fourth quarter of 2016 and will be completed in the fourth quarter of 2017. In the context of the EU's circular economy initiative, the Commission has submitted a proposal for amendment of the Battery Directive, which would delete Member States' obligation to produce implementation reports and would require that the Commission draw up a report on the implementation of the Battery Directive and its impact on the environment and the functioning of the internal market by the end of 2016 at the latest.

The Battery Directive applies to batteries and accumulators, including batteries incorporated into products.

The main exclusions and exemptions are:

  • Exclusion from the scope: equipment intended specifically for military purposes and space equipment.
  • Exclusion from the chemical restrictions: emergency and alarm systems, medical equipment and cordless power tools.
  • Exemption from take-back funding obligation: Member States may exempt small producers.
  • Exemption from labeling obligation: Exemptions may be granted through comitology.

The main obligations of battery manufacturers are:

  • Chemical restrictions: 0,0005 % by weight threshold for mercury (2% for button cell) and 0,002% by weight threshold for cadmium.
  • Product design: Waste batteries must be readily removable and this must appropriately indicated to the end-user, unless continuity of power supply is necessary and requires permanent connection with the appliance for safety, performance, medical or data integrity reasons.
  • Labeling: Batteries must be marked with the crossed-out wheeled bin and labeled with their capacity. Additional labeling may be required if the presence of mercury, cadmium, or lead exceeds 0,0005%, 0,002% or 0,004%, respectively.
  • Registration: Producers must be registered with the national authorities.
  • Take-back scheme and recycling target: The Battery Directive also lays down rules for the establishment of take-back and collection schemes in Member States as from September 2009 in order to attain high recycling targets by 2016.
Member States were required to implement the Battery Directive into national legislation by September 2008. A handful of Member States had not fully complied with the implementation obligations before the deadline. In October 2010, Greece was the last country to implement the directive.


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