EU to mandate battery recycling

European manufacturers and resellers of batteries for laptops and phones will have to recycle spent batteries, according to a European Directive agreed Tuesday.

Manufacturers and resellers of batteries for devices including laptops and phones will be obliged to dispose of spent batteries, and new batteries will be restricted in the amount of mercury and cadmium they can contain, according to a new Europe-wide law agreed by European Union lawmakers in Brussels late Tuesday evening.

Battery makers will have to register in the countries where they manufacture, and will be obliged to label their batteries with accurate information about their performance.

The directive bans the sale of portable batteries containing more than 0.0005 percent mercury and 0.002 percent cadmium, except for emergency and alarm systems, medical equipment and cordless power tools. Batteries are defined as portable if they weigh less than 1 kilogram.

The law aims to reduce sharply the amount of harmful substances that leak out from used batteries when they are dumped with regular waste in landfills. In 2002, some 158,270 tons of portable batteries and accumulators were sold in the 15 states that were then members of the European Union.

Only six of the E.U.'s 25 members today have collection systems for spent batteries. Belgium collects 59 percent of all spent batteries, Sweden 55 percent, Austria 44 percent, Germany 39 percent, the Netherlands 32 percent and France 16 percent.

The new law lays down minimum collection rates of 25 percent of annual sales by 2012 and 45 percent by 2016 for all 25 member states. Public authorities will have to provide collection points in all neighborhoods, and electronics stores and other sellers of portable batteries will have to accept used batteries, regardless of when and where the batteries were purchased.

But the biggest burden will be felt by battery producers, who will have to cover the cost of recycling and disposing of the substances inside the batteries they collect.

The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers set a target on Tuesday for recycling 50 percent of batteries not containing cadmium or lead, 75 percent of batteries containing cadmium, and 65 percent of those containing lead.

The European Parliament and the Council agreed that small producers could be exempt from these financial responsibilities.

Battery makers will also have to come clean about the true performance of their batteries. Under existing legislation, battery makers can make exaggerated claims about the power their batteries contain. The European Parliament pushed for the labeling clause.

"This provision was not in the original proposal but Parliament thought the consumer should be able to choose higher-performance and long-life batteries," said Johannes Blokland, the Dutch member of the European Parliament who took a lead in the debate.

"Cheap batteries are not necessarily the best choice for the environment if they have a shorter life. As of 2009, labels on all batteries and accumulators must show their real capacity," he said.

The European Commission, which drafted the new law, welcomed the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the 25 national governments. "The E.U. gives high priority to making sure that batteries and accumulators no longer cause health and environmental problems due to the heavy metals they contain," said Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas.

"Now it is time to start implementing the provisions of the new battery directive. The faster we start to collect and recycle batteries, the better for the environment," he said.

Around 160,000 tons of portable batteries for consumer devices are sold annually in the E.U., along with 800,000 tons of automotive batteries and 190,000 tons of industrial batteries. The batteries may contain mercury, lead or cadmium -- considered hazardous waste under existing legislation -- and nickel, copper, zinc, manganese or lithium.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Meller

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?