Batteries Legislation

The EU adopted the first Batteries Directive in March 1991 (91/157/EC). This legislation introduced restrictions on the use of mercury in most batteries and encouraged collection and recycling. However, the objectives of this first Batteries Directive were not achieved as most portable batteries were still sent to landfill (although some countries have efficient collection schemes in place). For example, in 2002 approximately 45.5% of the total amount of portable batteries sold in EU-15 (i.e. the 15 countries which were members of the EU at that time) went for final disposal to landfill or by incineration.

As a result, the EU introduced a new Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC which came into force in EU Member States from 26 September 2008 and replaced the previous Directive. The Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC has since been amended by Batteries Directive 2013/56/EU of 20 November 2013. The new Directive introduces the following:

  • Until 1st October 2015 button cells shall not contain more than 2% mercury by weight. After this date all batteries and accumulators will be subject to a 0.0005% (by weight) mercury limit.
  • As of 31st December 2016 cordless power tools will no longer be exempt from the cadmium limit. Hence, from this point onwards, all batteries and accumulators will be subject a 0.002% by weight cadmium limit.
  • The amended Directive allows batteries and accumulators legally placed on the market prior to each respective ban to still be marketed until stocks run out.
  • Where waste batteries and accumulators cannot be readily removed by the end-user, manufacturers are required to design products so that batteries and accumulators can be readily removed by qualified professionals that are independent of the manufacturer.
  • Annex IV states the procedural requirements for registration.
  • Please visit the¬†Obligations on batteries producers page for a full list of requirements under the Batteries Directive. The Batteries Directive applies to all types of batteries regardless of their shape, volume, weight, material composition or use. The Directive also specifically includes batteries which are incorporated into electrical equipment, apart from batteries contained in military and space equipment.

    The Directive defines three categories of battery, and places different requirements on battery producers in each category

  • Portable battery = battery or battery pack that is sealed, hand carried and not an industrial or automotive battery
  • Industrial battery = battery designed exclusively for industrial or professional uses
  • Automotive battery = battery used for automotive starter, lighting or ignition power