The waste batteries and accumulator regulations are scheduled to change. We've summarised the key facts and action points from the consultation.
From the 1 July 2015, new restrictions on the use of cadmium and mercury within batteries will apply.
What are the changes in waste batteries and accumulator regulations?
The producer responsibility regulations in the UK were created as a result of directives introduced in the European Union.
The aim of the directive was to improve environmental performance and reduce the impact waste batteries have on the environment.
Under the current regulations, there is an exemption on the ban of cadmium in cordless power tools and less than 2% mercury (by weight) is permitted in button cells.
The proposed changes are to remove the exemption and ban the use of batteries containing more than 0.002% of cadmium (intended for use in power tools). The change will also prohibit the marketing of button cell batteries containing mercury. The main drivers for this change are the associated health implications that either chemical can have on human health, should they be leaked into the environment through landfill type disposal.
How will new waste batteries and accumulator regulations affect you?
You should be familiar with the current labelling requirements for batteries placed on the market; however it has been proposed that further requirements could be needed, such as chemical symbols and the capacity of the battery.
Marketing of button cell batteries containing more than 2% (weight) of mercury will be prohibited from the 1st October 2015. The commission after this date will report to European parliament on the availability of alternative button cells for hearing aids.
The ban on cadmium use within cordless power tools will not be effective until 1st January 2017, to allow appropriate time for recycling infrastructure to prepare for the new changes.
Batteries and accumulators lawfully placed on the market for the first time prior to the respective bands can still be marketed until stocks run out.
In the short to long-term it is anticipated that there may be slight cost increases to those companies that recycle cadmium, until such chemistries are phased out. A similar thing may be experienced from the consumer having to purchase more expensive, non- banned alternatives.
It is hoped that with the new legislation there will be an increase in consumer choice and competition, enabling consumers to buy from independent qualified professionals.
What can you do?
We would encourage batteries producers and those that work with, sell or distribute batteries to read the changes from the consultation, which can be found here.
What happens next?
The consultation is expected to close on the 5 November 2014. Following this the government aims to produce a response within eight weeks before the regulations come into force from 1 July 2015.
The UK will be implementing the directive into legislation using the same wording to avoid putting UK businesses at a competitive advantage.
If you would like to discuss this in more detail please email our batteries team or call 0845 094 2228.
Innovation and policy director
Robbie is innovation and policy director at Ecosurety. Having spent years building an intimate understanding of the industry’s policies and politics, he uses this knowledge to help shape new legislation and oversees Ecosurety’s growing portfolio of cross-industry innovation projects including Podback and the Flexible Plastic Fund. He has worked closely with Defra during the most recent packaging consultations, outlining the impacts and required transitional arrangements of the UK’s new EPR system and is a member of the government’s Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP). He is also a spokesperson for the company and regularly uses his influence to communicate the importance of environmental responsibility to external stakeholders.
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