Council agrees minimal ban on cadmium in batteries

The Environment Council has reached a political agreement to
partially ban the use of cadmium in consumer batteries. However,
several types of batteries, such as those used in
power tools, would be exempt.

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.” 

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