Batteries Directive proposal: mandatory collection and recycling but no cadmium ban

The Commission adopted on 25 November a proposal for a new battery directive, setting minimum rules for national collection and recycling schemes, but falling short of banning cadmium.

The new directive will create an EU-wide framework for national battery collection and recycling schemes. This should prevent batteries from ending up in incinerators or landfills and should also recover the precious metal resources used in the batteries. The directive proposes the following measures:

  • to ban the landfilling or incineration of all automotive and industrial batteries;
  • to set up national collection systems, allowing consumers to return their spent batteries free of charge;
  • to set a collection target for consumer batteries of 160g per inhabitant per year (corresponding to 4-5 portable batteries per person per year);
  • to set a collection target of 80 per cent for nickel-cadmium consumer batteries;
  • to set recycling targets of 65 per cent by weight for lead-acid batteries (all lead to be recovered), 75 per cent for nickel-cadmium batteries (all cadmium to be recovered) and 55 per cent for all other batteries;
  • producers to be made responsible for costs related to collection, treatment and recycling;
  • producers to be allowed to use a ‘visible fee’ for a maximum of five years after implementation.

 

TheEuropean Environmental Bureau (EEB)expressed its disappointment with the draft directive. "This proposal is useless and will achieve little as regards environmental protection", said Roberto Ferrigno of the EEB. The green organisation hopes to find support in the Parliament for more stricter rules.

 

The EU market for batteries amounts to about 800,000 tonnes of automotive batteries, 190,000 tonnes of industrial batteries and 160,000 tonnes of consumer batteries every year. These batteries contain metals, which might pollute the environment at the end of their life-cycle. Mercury, lead and cadmium are seen as the most dangerous substances.

Currently, the management of spent batteries is regulated by three directives. Several concerns have been raised over the environmental risks and the effectiveness of these directives:

 

  • their limited scope - they only cover batteries and accumulators containingcertainbut not all types of metals, thereby reducing the effective waste management ofallbatteries;
  • the fact that the directives only limit the marketing of batteries and accumulators containing more than 0.0005 per cent of mercury from January 2001, although batteries of all types emit heavy metals when not properly recycled;
  • the disparities between national systems for collecting and recycling systems for batteries.

 

The Parliament and the Council will be asked to approve this draft directive.

 

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