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Battery Directive

  European Union Council Directive on Batteries and Accumulators and Waste Batteries 2006/66/EC of 6 September 2006 . Batteries can contain toxic metals and, when discarded, are considered to be hazardous waste.

The European Union "Battery Directive" was meant to promote a less-polluted environment by minimizing harmful substances in batteries. The first of these "battery directives" was known as the "Council Directive of 18 March 1991 on Batteries and Accumulators Containing Certain Dangerous Substances (91/157/EEC) ."[1]

The most recent version of this directive, the 2006 Battery Directive [2], officially repealing the 1991 Battery Directive, was approved July 4, 2006 and became official on the date of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities on September 26, 2006. Like other European compliance directives of this kind it serves the dual purpose of promoting better quality of life through a cleaner environment, while improving the European economy by standardizing technical manufacturing and marketing practices among European member states.

Similar European Directives protecting the environment and health, parallel to the Battery Directive, are the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), and Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) directives. The Battery Directive explicitly legislates the banning of certain chemicals and metals in batteries; maximum quantities of chemicals and metals in batteries; waste management of these batteries, including recycling, collections, "take-back" programs, and disposal; financial responsibility for programs; rules covering most phases of this legislation, including labeling, marking, documentation, reviews, and other administrative and procedural matters.



This directive, like many other European compliance directives, is not a law, but intended as a guideline for European member nations. Though European directives are legislation, member European Union states must comply with them to avoid legal action that the European Union can bring to bear if they don't. However member states have some freedom in implementing directives and are active in the legislative process.

The battery directive has an objective of less hazardous substances used in the manufacture of batteries e.g., lead, lead-acid, mercury, cadmium, etc., and better waste management of these batteries. Many European member states have passed battery and waste management laws. Among those nations are: Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, and others. Finland and Denmark have supported a total prohibition of battery cadmium. Belgium and Sweden have battery recycling rates of 59% and 55%. With the finalization of the 2006 Battery Directive, European states now have specific guidelines to which to make rules to comport.

The United States EPA has a battery-specific environmental safety law in the 1996 Battery Act [3] and U.S. companies and individual states have laws similar to the European battery directive. The US Battery Act limits or prohibits mercury in some consumer batteries and calls for cost-effective collection, recycling or disposal of batteries.


Early Waste Directives

The first of the western European directives dealing with waste management was the "Council Directive 75/442/EEC of 15 July 1975 on Waste."[4] It didn't mention batteries or chemicals but specified the regulation of "particular categories of waste," which was later referenced to by both Battery Directives as a legislative or legal basis. The first version of the European Council Directive on Batteries and Accumulators 91/157/EEC [5] was approved on March 18, 1991. It covered many battery types, including industrial, automotive, dry-cell, lead-acid, alkaline, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal-hyrdride, lithium, lithium-ion, mercury, etc. The first program in the directive was set for a six-year duration, starting in 1993.

Provisions of the first Battery Directive

The 1991 battery Directive's "Article 3; MI; Annex I" stated the prohibition of marketing:

1. Batteries on the market after September 18, 1992 with:

  • 1.A. more than 25 mg of mercury per cell, except alkaline manganese batteries
  • 1.B. more than 0.025 % cadmium by weight
  • 1.C. more than 0.4 % lead by weight

2. Alkaline manganese batteries placed on the market after September 18, 1992 containing more than 0.025 % of mercury by weight

3. Batteries on the market after January 1, 1999 with more than 0.0005 % mercury by weight

Since battery recycling rates then were about 5% the directive sought to improve these rates. It set up recycling goals: separate collection and recycling; recycling/collection consumer information. The responsibility for providing separated recycling collection was largely given to the manufacturers. Recycling requirements are found in Articles 4, 6, and 7.

There were marking provisions, including manufacturer responsibility for marking on the battery products themselves the contained substances and recycling information.

Resistance to the Battery Directive

Regulation was met with heavy resistance. Disputed were deadlines; target recycling rates; implementation dates; weight percentage limits; applicable product groups; financial responsibility for public information campaigns and waste management (and its financial impact); exclusions of financial responsibility given to small producer businesses; and personnel safety from decreased reliability of "greener" batteries.

In a non-environmental battery marking question, automotive battery makers questioned markings on batteries relating to battery performance, arguing that the quantity of a car battery's electric current output to start a vehicle in extreme weather was a very good indicator of battery performance.

After poor implementation of the first Battery Directive, work began on a new directive that would more emphasize battery end-of-life waste management through mandated and better-structured collection and recycling programs. It was also acknowledged that more research on certain substance was needed before harsher, more complete, and, arguably, unrealistic, bans. Thus the onus was on everyone in the waste management chain, from producer to the consumer, rather than affecting product design with substance bans that manufacturers claimed are unreasonable.

Conciliation Committee's compromise

Consultations to revisions of the first battery Directive started in 1997, giving all interested parties a voice in legislation and policy, especially in assessing the directive's economic, environmental, and social impact. In February 2003 an open stakeholders consultation process was started, which published its findings online, and culminated in a meeting in Brussels, in July 2003. The waters were tested by asking for Extended Impact Assessments for different scenarios of proposed ranges of regulation. For example, what would be the impact in establishing spent battery collection targets of from 30% to 80% or the impact of SEPARATE spent battery collection of from 70% to 100%? Entities were asked how these goals could be met and to propose collection responsibility models.

The "green" viewpoint (and perhaps that of the Conciliation Committee's) [6] was that the previous Directive had been limited in scope, while groups on the other side set forth reasons for less stringency. Those arguing for broadening the scope claimed that if batteries with certain metals were not banned carte blanche then the waste management effort would be hurt by confusion and perhaps inconvenience to the public.

There were at least six drafts the 2003 version, which was equivalent to a second battery directive. The 2003 revision, Council Directive 2003/0282/COD [7], a July 2006 "conciliation agreement," was a compromise between the European Council and European Parliament, and came after three years of draft revisions. It was welcomed by entities like the European Portable Battery Association (EPBA), that favored less stringency. As in other models of European compliance legislation, a corporation or organizations like the EPBA participates in working groups with members that include, among other players, legislators, large enterprises -- in this case, battery-makers -- trade associations, and non-governmental organizations. The Directive's overall stated objective was still to protect the public interest with a cleaner environment by minimizing the negative impact on the environment of batteries, especially in their waste cycle. Depending on the viewpoint, it was also something of a compromise between 1. manufacturers and distributors, and 3. environmental proponents.

2006 Battery Directive

The most recent 2006 Battery Directive, made official Sept. 26, 2006, gives European member states until Sept. 26, 2008, to implement its national laws and rules on batteries (Art.26 - Transposition). Some nations have led the pack and already started programs and passed laws in accordance with the spirit and specifications of earlier battery directives.

Details of the Battery Directive


With the exception of "button" cells with mercury content of no more than 2% by weight, the 2006 Battery Directive restates the earlier battery directives' prohibiton of marketing all batteries with more than 0.0005% mercury and 0.002% cadmium, except as noted in Exemptions paragraph below, and mandates symbols on battery labels that indicate the battery's chemical contents if mercury or cadmium (Art.4).

Lead is no longer being totally prohibited from batteries.

It states that it must be easy for consumers to remove batteries from electronic products.

There should be initiatives to reduce heavy metal in batteries, promote using less toxic substances in batteries, less batteries thrown in regular household waste, research initiatives in the above and in recycling, separation of battery types in disposal. Consumers should be informed of the dangers in non-compliant disposal of old batteries.

Battery disposal

Disposal of automotive and industrial batteries by leaving in landfills or by incineration "should be prohibited". (Directive preface point #8)

Recycling and collection of batteries

Art. 7 emphasizes that the member states maximize the "separation" of batteries from regular municipal waste and requires spent batteries to be collected separately.

So that less batteries reach the landfills, recycling and collection are called out, with target percentages for the future.

The collection program is found in Annex I. It is proposed that member states set their own country's standards using the Battery Directive as a guide for minimum levels. These levels are stated in terms of percents of prior annual sales. Art. 3-7 says, " 'collection rate' means, for a given Member State in a given calendar year, the percentage obtained by dividing the weight of waste portable batteries and accumulators collected in accordance with Article 8(1) of this Directive or with Directive 2002/96/EC in that calendar year by the average weight of portable batteries and accumulators that producers either sell directly to end-users or deliver to third parties in order to sell them to end-users in that Member State during that calendar year and the preceding two calendar years. "

The member states shall provide collection sites that are accessible and free of charge to the public. Battery distributors may be required to provide this (Art. 8).

The waste battery collection rate targets are specified relative to the date member states pass law pursuant to the Directive, e.g., 25%, four years after law is passed (2012); 45%, eight years after law is passed (2012) (Art. 10 & Annex I).

Collections rates are to be monitored yearly as per Annex I scheme, reporting to the Commission yearly. There may be some leeway given in the form of "transitional agreements" if a nation has special circumstances. (Art. 10)

Exclusions and exemptions

There are many exclusions granted to manufacturers and certain product types. In some cases these are for batteries used in safety or other critical-use applications, e.g., miners' caps.

Exemptions for the following are still in place:

Art. 2  - Space, militiary, munitions, and "essential security" applications
Art. 4  - Mercury Ban: 

Button cells with 2% or less mercury content by weight

Art. 4  - Cadmium Ban: 

Emergency, emergency lighting, emergency doors, and alarm systems; medical equipment; cordless power tools

Art. 14 - Incinerator ban:

Residues of batteries that have gone through appropriate treatment as per Art. 12-1 may be placed in landfills or by incineration.

Art. 18 - Small producers


Batteries imported from third countries under non-discriminatory conditions are included (Art. 19).

Economic Instruments

Member states may use instruments like differential tax rates to encourage less toxic batteries and recycling (Art. 9)

Implementation reports

Member states are required to submit implementation reports to the commission every three years (Art. 22).


In Art. 21 marking must indicate separate collections or recycling and the heavy metal content. Labels should state collection information and chemical content of batteries. They should show a symbol of the "crossed-out" wheeled recycling bin (Annex II, P. 13 of the new directive [8]) to indicate that the battery should NOT go in the bin. This symbol size is specified as a percent of battery area on its largest side (3%), except for cylindrical batteries, where the symbol should be 1.5% of total surface area.


Member states will set up measures for "effective, proportionate, and dissuasive" penalties for actions not comporting to the battery Directive and apprise the European Commission of these measures and any changes (Art. 25).

Battery Collection Targets

Annex I Battery Collection Targets mentioned in Art. 10 above:

Year Data collection Data collection Calculation Reporting Requirement
X*+1 Sales in year 1 (S1) .. .. ..
X+2 Sales in year 2 (S2) .. .. ..
X+3 Sales in year 3 (S3) Collection in year 3 (C3) Collection rate (CR3) = 3*C3/(S1+S2+S3) ..
X+4 Sales in year 4 (S4) Collection in year 4 (C4) Collection rate (CR4) = 3*C4/(S2+S3+S4)

(Target set at 25%.)

X+5 Sales in year 5 (S5) Collection in year 5 (C5) Collection rate (CR5) = 3*C5/(S3+S4+S5) CR4
X+6 Sales in year 6 (S6) Collection in year 6 (C6) Collection rate (CR6) = 3*C6/(S4+S5+S6) CR5
X+7 Sales in year 7 (S7) Collection in year 7 (C7) Collection rate (CR7) = 3*C7/(S5+S6+S7) CR6
X+8 Sales in year 8 (S8) Collection in year 8 (C8) Collection rate (CR8) = 3*C8/(S6+S7+S8)

(Target set at 45%.)

X+9 Sales in year 9 (S9) Collection in year 9 (C9) Collection rate (CR9) = 3*C9/(S7+S8+S9) CR8
X+10 Sales in year 10 (S10) Collection in year 10 (C10) Collection rate (CR10) = 3*C10/(S8+S9+10) CR9
X+11 Etc. Etc. Etc. CR10
Etc. .. .. .. ..
  • Year X is the year including the date mentioned in Article 26."

See also


  1. ^ Council Directive of 18 March 1991 on Batteries and Accumulators Containing Certain Dangerous Substances (91/157/EEC), European Union Website, Accessed 15.11.06
  2. ^ 2006 Battery Directive (Directive 2006/66/EC) Accessed 15.11.06
  3. ^ Battery Specific Environmental Safety Law 1996 Battery Safety Act, U.S. E.P.A., Accessed 15.11.06
  4. ^ Council Directive 75/442/EEC of 15 July 1975 on Waste European Union Website, Accessed 15.11.06
  5. ^ Directive on Batteries and Accumulators 91/157/EEC, European Union Website, Accessed 15.11.06
  6. ^ Consultation Document on the Revision of the Battery Directive European Union Website, Accessed 15.11.06
  7. ^ 2003 Council Directive 2003/0282/COD Revision European Union Website, Accessed 15.11.06
  8. ^ Annex II BMU Website, Accessed 15.11.06
  • Consolidated Text of the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities 2003/0282 (COD); June 2006
  • (Battery) Directive 2006/66/EC;; Sept. 26, 2006
  • Directive 2006/66/EC download; BMU - The Federal Environment, Germany (in English);Sept. 2006
  • Official Journal of the European Communities [1]
  • Analysis - Success of New EU Waste Battery Law is 2-Way Street; Planet Ark; Anna Stablum; June 13, 2006
  • U.K. Retailer leads pilot scheme to recycle hearing aid batteries
  • The first self-remediating NiCad battery; Pollution Online; Oct. 24, 2006
  • U.S. Battery Act enforcement; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Battery Act newsletter; Enforcement Alert; March 2004; EPA
  • EU Battery Directive Q&A; European Commission; 1993
  • EU News and Policy Positions - Battery Directive; Euractiv; 2006
  • Council agrees to minimal battery cadmium ban; Euractiv; 2004
  • Composition of the different types of batteries; Umweltbundesamt; Nov. 1999
  • Sales for batteries by type, 1986-1998, Germany; Umweltbundesamt; Nov. 1999
  • NiCad battery environment pollution, Germany; Umweltbundesamt; April 2002
  • Support position on total cadmium ban;Danish EPA Dir.Gen. Steen Gade; Aug. 2001
  • Request to EU Environment Commission for total ban of NiCad batteries in Directive; Svend Auken, Environment & Energy Minister, Denmark; Kjell Larsson, Sweden; Satu Hass, Finland; Aug. 2001
  • Recycling call over batteries; Liverpool Echo;Oct. 20 2006
  • Stakeholders meeting on Battery Directive 2003 revision; European Commission; June 2006
  • EU sets higher collection targets for waste batteries; Fed. Environment, Nature Conservation, & Nuclear Safety Ministry , Germany; Sept. 27, 2006
  • Batteries to be collected and recycled, nature protected; European Parliament; July 2006
  • Position Paper on Battery Directive revision consultation; EU Committee, Belgium Chamber of Commerce; April 2003
  • Producers told to collect and recycle waste batteries; Euractiv; Dec. 2005

[EU Regulations compliance (WEEE, RoHS, Batteries, REACH) ]

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Battery_Directive". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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