Batteries and accumulators play an essential role to ensure that many daily-used products, appliances and services work properly, constituting an indispensable energy source in our society. Every year, approximately 800.000 tons of automotive batteries, 190.000 tons of industrial batteries, and 160.000 tons of consumer batteries enter the European Union.
Not all these batteries are properly collected and recycled at the end of their life, which increases the risk of releasing hazardous substances and constitutes a waste of resources. Many of the components of these batteries and accumulators could be recycled, avoiding the release of hazardous substances to the environment and, in addition, providing valuable materials to important products and production processes in Europe.
The EU legislation on waste batteries is embodied in the Batteries Directive. It intends to contribute to the protection, preservation and improvement of the quality of the environment by minimising the negative impact of batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators. It also ensures the smooth functioning of the internal market by harmonising requirements as regards the placing on the market of batteries and accumulators. With some exceptions, it applies to all batteries and accumulators, no matter their chemical nature, size or design.
To achieve these objectives, the Directive prohibits the marketing of batteries containing some hazardous substances, defines measures to establish schemes aiming at high level of collection and recycling, and fixes targets for collection and recycling activities. The Directive also sets out provisions on labelling of batteries and their removability from equipment.
It also aims to improve the environmental performance of all operators involved in the life cycle of batteries and accumulators, e.g. producers, distributors and end-users and, in particular, those operators directly involved in the treatment and recycling of waste batteries and accumulators. Producers of batteries and accumulators and producers of other products incorporating a battery or accumulator are given responsibility for the waste management of batteries and accumulators that they place on the market.