Environment Committee wants to ban nickel-cadmium batteries but grants exemptions

In its first reading of the Commission’s draft batteries directive, the Parliament’s environment committee has proposed to ban nickel-cadmium batteries.

In November 2003, the Commission adopted a proposal for a new
Battery Directive. The proposal imposes an obligation to collect
and recycle all batteries placed on the market in the EU so that
they are not sent for landfill or incinerated and the various
metals which they contain can be recovered. The Commission decided
against a ban on nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries (see
EURACTIV 26 November
2003
).

In its first reading of the draft directive on 6
April, the Parliament's Environment Committee adopted the report of
its rapporteur Hans Blokland (EDD-Netherlands) calling for a
stricter recycling scheme. The committee members also called on
governments to prohibit sales of all batteries or accumulators
containing more than 5 parts per million (ppm) of mercury by
weight, 40 ppm of lead, and/or 20 ppm of cadmium. However, the MEPs
endorsed a list of exemptions for those applications where no
substitutes are available yet (cordless power tools, aeroplanes,
trains ...).

The
European Environmental Bureau (EEB) showed its
satisfaction over the committees' stricter demands, but regretted
the list of exemptions. "The Water Framework Directive lists
cadmium and its compounds as one out of 10 priority hazardous
substances for which discharges, emissions and losses have to be
ceased within 20 years. Viable alternatives, also for most power
tools, are already available but are less competitive on the market
due to the cheaper cadmium option. Under the substitution principle
nickel-cadmium batteries CAN and MUST be phased out", said John
Hontelez, EEB Secretary General.

The
EU's batteries industry has been battling hard to
prevent strict regulatory rules. It prefers good collection and
recycling practices based on voluntary agreements.

The Parliament's plenary will vote on the
Blokland report on 21 April. It is not sure whether the plenary
will follow the committees' recommendation for a ban.

 

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