The Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC imposes a take-back and recycling obligation on producers (defined as any company that puts batteries or products integrated with batteries on the EU market) and covers all battery types including button cells. It comes into force on 26 September 2008 and replaces the existing Directive (91/157/EEC), the objectives of which have not been fully attained. Under a corrigendum implemented due to concerns regarding the environmental impact of this new directive, batteries legally placed onto the market before 26 September 2008 which do not comply with the requirements of the new legislation do not need to be withdrawn from the market.
In essence, this directive restricts the placing on the market of certain batteries and accumulators containing Mercury or Cadmium, and is a means of preventing all batteries from being discarded in such a way as to damage the environment.
In addition to certain administrative requirements (see below), producers will be required to register in each EU state where they place batteries on the market; they must either offer a take-back scheme or use make use of a national/local compliance scheme.
The Batteries Directive requires clear labelling with a crossed Wheelie Bin (see above), to indicate that the batteries should not be disposed of with normal refuse. The chemical symbol Hg must be included if the batteries contain more than 0.0005% by weight of Mercury (2% for button cells), Cd when containing more than 0.002% Cadmium, and Pb when containing more than 0.004% Lead; these symbols should be situated underneath the crossed Wheelie Bin logo. For button cells, labelling must be made on the accompanying packaging in order to satisfy the size requirements (at least 1 cm x 1 cm). From 26 September 2009, the capacity of portable (defined as sealed units that can be hand carried) and automotive (used for starting, lighting, and ignition) batteries must be displayed clearly allowing consumers to easily select batteries with higher capacities; further rules governing this requirement will be released later March 2009.
Finally, clear instructions for the safe removal and disposal arrangements of batteries should be given with every product falling within the scope of the directive; specific exemptions apply to this requirement where continuity of power is necessary for safety, performance, medical, or data integrity reasons.