The EU's environment ministers has gone further than the Commission's original proposal by introducing a phase-out of cadmium in consumer batteries (for mobile phones, toys, camcorders etc.). On the other hand, heavy resistance by some member states (France, the UK) has led to exemptions for cadmium used in power tools and in industrial batteries. The exemption for power tools is to be reviewed by the Commission after four years.
The Council also set collection targets for all types of batteries. Member states will have to collect 25% of all batteries four years after the transposition of the directive and 45% after eight years.
The European Parliament will have to approve the Council's political agreement in second reading.
The European Portable Battery Association (EPBA) had asked in a press release before the council for a "fair deal" with "achievable recycling and collection goals, provision of a financing mechanism and a commitment that ALL producers placing batteries on the market will register their sales".
The industrial and automotive battery producers represented by Eurobat welcomed the Council agreement but expressed concerns over the definition of industrial batteries and rejected a clause obliging producers or recyclers to take back batteries from consumers regardless of chemical composition and origin.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and Greenpeace criticised the exemptions granted to power tools and industrial batteries. EEB Policy director Stefan Scheuer linked the debate to the EU's Lisbon agenda: "The exemptions granted and the delay of four years to consider a comprehensive ban run counter to the objective of rewarding innovative frontrunners and promotion of knowledge-based competitiveness, something member states have been so keen to commit to. In four years time new and safer batteries might be coming from outside Europe, we appear to be running the risk of another Toyota Prius type case."