Directive 2006/66/EC aimed at increased environmental performance introduced limits of 0.0005% of mercury in batteries and accumulators and 0.002% of cadmium in portable batteries and accumulators. Directive 2006/66/EC has since been amended by directive 2013/56/EU.
Directive 2013/56/EU (amending 2006/66/EC) sets out that the limit of 0.0005% of mercury in batteries will also apply to button cell batteries from 1st October 2015. The exemption of button cell batteries in hearing aids will be reviewed by 1st October 2014
From 1st January 2017, portable batteries for use in cordless power tools (previously exempt) must contain no more than 0.002% of cadmium. However, portable batteries used in medical equipment and emergency alarm systems (including lighting) will be exempt.
Batteries and accumulators that do not meet the requirements of Directive 2013/56/EU, but which were lawfully placed on the market prior to the date of application of the respective prohibitions set out by the directive, may continue to be marketed until stocks are exhausted.
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 came into force on 26 September 2008 and replaced the existing Directive (91/157/EEC), the objectives of which were never 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the market before 26 September 2008 which do not comply with the requirements of the new legislation do not need to be withdrawn from the market.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, the Batteries 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 are required to register as a battery producer 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 Directive requires clear labelling with a crossed out 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.
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.
The Directive is not a CE Marking Directive: compliance is denoted by the crossed-out wheelie bin logo.
Directive 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators and repealing Directive 91/157/EEC came into force on 26 September 2006.
Directive 2013/56/EU amends Directive 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators, and waste batteries and accumulators as regards the placing on the market of portable batteries and accumulators containing cadmium intended for use in cordless power tools, and of button cells with low mercury content, and repealing Commission Decision 2009/603/EC. Published Official Journal L329, 10 December 2013