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Environment

Batteries and accumulators

Overview

Batteries and accumulators image
© TarikVision / Getty Images

The Commission proposed a new Batteries Regulation (with Annexes) on 10 December 2020. This Regulation aims to ensure that batteries placed in the EU market are sustainable and safe throughout their entire life cycle.
Press release: Green Deal: Sustainable batteries for a circular and climate neutral economy.

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.

Introduction

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.

Legislation

The Batteries Directive was adopted in 2006 and has been subject to a number of revisions. Last amendments were incorporated in 2013. The consolidated version of the Directive is presented below

Secondary legislation

The Batteries Directive requires that the European Commission, assisted by Member States, develops in detail some of its provisions on, e.g. labelling or reporting. The Decisions and Regulations adopted in this context are listed below,

  • Commission Decision 2008/763/EC establishing, pursuant to Directive 2006/66/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, a common methodology for the calculation of annual sales of portable batteries and accumulators to end-users
  • Commission Decision 2009/851/EC establishing a questionnaire for Member States reports on the implementation of Directive 2006/66/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 1103/2010 establishing, pursuant to Directive 2006/66/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, rules as regards capacity labelling of portable secondary (rechargeable) and automotive batteries and accumulators
  • Commission Regulation (EU) No 493/2012 of 11 June 2012 laying down, pursuant to Directive 2006/66/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, detailed rules regarding the calculation of recycling efficiencies of the recycling processes of waste batteries and accumulators.

Guidance Documents

Evaluation

Evaluation of the EU Directive 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators (the Batteries Directive)

The Commission has completed the evaluation of the Batteries Directive, the only piece of EU legislation entirely dedicated to batteries. The evaluation report of the Batteries Directive has been published on the 9 of April 2019.

The results of the evaluation have been used to prepare the Commission report on the implementation and on the impact on the environment and the functioning of the internal market of the Batteries Directive.

The evaluation is part of a process that could lead to the directive’s revision. It has taken account of the increased use of batteries, due to the diversification of communication technologies or the growing demand for renewable energies. The initiative for a ‘European Batteries Alliance’ (EBA) that aims to ensure a whole value chain for the manufacturing of advanced cells and batteries within the EU is also part of the new policy context.

While the evaluation has adopted a broad perspective, some points have received particular attention, namely the management of hazardous substances in batteries, the collection and recycling of waste batteries or the directive’s capability to keep pace with technological change. Enabling measures, like those on labelling and information, have also been looked at.
The evaluation concludes that the directive has delivered positive results in terms of a better environment, the promotion of recycling and better functioning of the internal market for batteries and recycled materials.

Observed limitations in some legal provisions or their implementation prevent the directive from fully delivering on its objectives. This is particularly true as regards the collection of waste batteries or the efficiency in the recovery of materials.
The evaluation has pointed out how the absence of a mechanism to incorporate technological novelties and new usages makes it difficult to ensure that the directive keeps pace with technological developments.

The evaluation has been carried out following the Better Regulation Guidelines of the European Commission. The process has involved significant participation of stakeholders, which were consulted or invited to submit their ideas and views and provide information.  A public consultation has been held since the 6 September 2017 until the 28 November 2017. Representatives of the Member States and stakeholders participated in a meeting of the Expert Group on Waste (Batteries), the 14 of March 2018, where the initial findings of the Study in Support of the Evaluation were presented.

Documents

Implementation

Commission reports

  • Report of the Commission on the implementation and the impact on the environment and the functioning of the internal market of Directive  2006/66/EC  on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators and repealing  Directive  91/157/EEC, COM(2019)166.
  • Report on the availability of mercury-free button cells for hearing aids, in accordance with Article 4.4 of Directive 2006/66/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators and repealing Directive 91/157/EEC, COM(2014)632 (not published in the Official Journal)
  • Commission report of 2 December 2010 on the exemption from the ban on cadmium granted for portable batteries and accumulators intended for use in cordless power tools [COM(2010) 698 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Meetings of the Technical Adaptation Committee

For the implementation of the Batteries Directive, the European Commission is assisted by a Committee, composed by representatives designated by Member States. The list below gives access to the minutes of the meeting of the Committee.

  • Meeting of 5 November 2013
    Report
  • Meeting of 5 November 2012
    Report
  • Meeting of 28 March 2011
    Report
  • Meeting of 1st June 2010
    Report
  • Meeting of 6 November 2009
    Report
  • Meeting of 20 December 2008
    Report
  • Meeting of 11 December 2007
    Report
  • Meeting of 30 of May 2007
    Report

Studies

Disclaimer: Please note that studies carried out for the European Commission contain the results of research by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.