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DEFRA consults on removing cadmium and mercury from batteries

The UK Government has released a consultation (06 August) on the implementation of the amended Batteries Directive, proposing to amend the 2008 Regulations.

The original directive was introduced to improve the environmental performance of batteries and accumulators and minimise the impact of waste batteries and accumulators have on the environment and applies UK wide. It was a requirement of this directive that the European Commission reviews exemptions regarding certain batteries that contain mercury and cadmium.

Under the current regulations, there is an exemption on the ban of cadmium in cordless power tools and less than 2% mercury in weight in button cells.

In the proposed consultation, questions are asked  relating to the impact and the cost of the amendments to the current batteries regulations.

The amended directive seeks to remove the exemption of the ban to the placing on the market of portable batteries and accumulators containing more than 0.002% of cadmium intended for use in cordless power tools. In order to enable the recycling industry and consumers to adapt to the relevant substitute technologies, this ban will apply from 1 January 2017.

The new law also prohibits the marketing of button cells with a mercury content of more than 2% by weight. This ban will apply from 1 October 2015 and the Commission will report to the European Parliament on the availability of alternatives to button cells for hearing aids. Batteries and accumulators lawfully placed on the market prior to the respective bans can still be marketed until stocks are exhausted.

The policy objectives and intended effects are:

  • To remove the cadmium and mercury exemptions over a reasonable period of time (from 31 December 2016 and 31 October 2015 respectively).

  • To diminish the amount of NiCd batteries in household waste which are released into the environment through landfill.

  • To help reduce the risk of mercury polluting the environment.

  • To increase competition and consumer choice by enabling consumers to go to independent qualified professionals, not exclusively those representing the manufacturers, for replacement of batteries in products. 

After the consultation has closed, the government aims to publish a response in November. The intention is that the regulations will come into force from 1 July 2015.

We welcome members’ views and encourage them to contribute to the consultation. To get in touch to discuss this further you can email us at batteries@ecosurety.com.

Read about the consultation online here.


Colin Porter

Compliance technical specialist

Colin joined in October 2011 as a compliance technical specialist. He's involved in operational planning for all regulations, helping his packaging regs members with their legal obligations and identifying prospective new members with obligations under the regulations.


Written by Colin Porter Published 18/08/2014 Topics Compliance

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