The main objective of the Battery Directive 2006/66/EC is to minimise the negative impact of waste batteries on the environment, in particular the impact of three problematic heavy metals: mercury, lead and cadmium.
The Battery Directive also defines the obligations for the labelling of batteries.
Thousands of tonnes of metals, including valuable metals such as nickel, cobalt and silver, can be recovered if batteries are properly recycled. That is why the EU made it compulsory to collect and recycle batteries and to prevent that batteries are incinerated or dumped in landfills.
Portable, industrial or automotive
The Battery Directive distinguishes between three categories of batteries, the table below shows applicable obligations for each category. Definitions are given on the next page.
- Chemical symbols shall only be mentioned if batteries contain one or more of the heavy metals above the following limits: 0,0005 % mercury (Hg), 0,002 % cadmium (Cd) or 0,004 % lead (Pb). The chemical symbols must be accompanied by the crossed-out wheeled bin logo.
- The capacity label requirement is only applicable for rechargeable, portable and automotive batteries, see Regulation (EU) 1103/2010.
- The mercury restriction for batteries is less than 0,0005%. An exception is made for button cells: until 1 October 2015 a mercury content less than 2% is allowed, see Directive 2013/56/EU.
- The mercury restriction for automotive batteries is stated in the End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive 2000/53/EC.
- The cadmium restriction for portable batteries is less than 0,002%. The restriction does not apply to battery packs for cordless power tools until 31 December 2016.
Automotive batteries are used for automotive starter, lighting or ignition power.
Industrial batteries are exclusively for industrial or professional uses or for electric vehicles.
Portable batteries are batteries, button cells or battery packs that are sealed, can be hand-carried and are neither industrial or automotive batteries. Common types of portable batteries are:
- Non-rechargeable or primary batteries, including alkaline batteries and lithium button cells.
- Rechargeable or secondary batteries, such as nickel-cadmium, nickel metal hydride and lithium (ion) poly batteries.
No capacity label for incorporated batteries
Regulation (EU) 1103/2010 on the capacity labelling of batteries clarifies that portable rechargeable batteries incorporated in appliances before being provided to end-users, and not intended to be removed by the end-user, are exempt from the capacity labelling requirements.
Manufacturers shall design appliances in such a way that waste batteries can be readily (easily) removed.
Where they cannot be readily removed by the end-user, manufacturers shall design appliances in such a way that waste batteries can be readily removed by qualified professionals that are independent of the manufacturer (e.g. electronic waste recycling companies).
These appliances shall be accompanied by instructions on how those batteries can be safely removed.
Where appropriate, the instructions shall also inform the end-user of the types of battery incorporated into the appliance.
These provisions shall not apply where, for safety, performance, medical or data integrity reasons, continuity of power supply is necessary and a permanent connection between the appliance and the battery is required.
The "crossed-out wheeled bin" symbol indicates separate collection.
It is identical to the symbol that is applicable for electrical and electronic equipment as required by the WEEE Directive.