The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament have agreed to amend Directive 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators in order to gradually reduce the amount of cadmium and mercury released into the environment as substitutes become available (PE-CONS 55/13).
Directive 2006/66/EC prohibits the placing on the market of portable batteries and accumulators, including those incorporated into appliances, that contain more than 0.002% of cadmium by weight. The new directive removes an exemption that applied to portable batteries intended for use in cordless power tools. To enable the recycling industry and consumers to adapt to the substitute technologies, this ban will apply from 31 December 2016.
Directive 2006/66/EC also bans batteries and accumulators that contain more than 0.0005% of mercury by weight, but there was an exemption for button cells with a mercury content of no more than 2% by weight. As the EU button cell market is already shifting to mercury-free button cells, the new directive now prohibits the marketing of button cells with a mercury content exceeding 0.0005%. This ban will apply 21 months after the directive enters into force. However, the Commission will report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the availability of alternatives to button cells for hearing aids.