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Batteries and accumulators

We all use many different types of battery in Wales and the UK.

These batteries vary in size and chemical make-up and are either single use (primary) or rechargeable, also known as secondary batteries or accumulators.

Batteries are divided into three categories:

  • portable
  • industrial 
  • automotive.  

Portable batteries include those in mobile phones or laptops and button cells which are used in watches and hearing aids.  

Industrial batteries are used to power electric vehicles like golf buggies and forklift trucks while automotive batteries are found in cars, vans and buses.

Batteries can contain hazardous chemicals and other properties such as lead, mercury or cadmium. If they are not disposed of correctly they may end up in landfill, where the chemicals they contain can leak into the ground. This can cause soil and water pollution and potentially be a risk to human health and the environment.  

Batteries and Accumulators Directive (2006/66/EC)

The Batteries and Accumulators and Waste Batteries and Accumulators Directive (2006/66/EC) aims to:

  • increase environmental performance
  • minimise the impact that waste batteries and accumulators have on the environment.  

The Directive seeks to reduce the amounts of hazardous substances which batteries and accumulators contain. These include:

  • mercury 
  • lead 
  • cadmium.

The Directive encourages collecting and recycling waste batteries and accumulators. It also seeks to improve the environmental performance of businesses involved in the lifecycle of these products, including producers, distributors, users and recyclers.  

Under the Batteries Directive:

  • the UK collection and recycling rates must increase from 25% by 2012 to 45% by 2016
  • selling certain batteries and accumulators that contain more mercury or cadmium than a fixed limit is banned
  • Recycling of the content of batteries and accumulators to produce similar products or for other purposes, must reach certain levels by September 2011 - this includes 65% for lead-acid, 75% for Nickel-Cadmium and 50% on other collected batteries and accumulator waste
  • disposing of untreated automotive and industrial batteries is banned
  • using cadmium and mercury in the design or manufacture of new batteries (subject to exemption review) is restricted.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is the lead UK Government Department for the Batteries Directive.

Visit: Batteries and Accumulators Directive (external link)

Visit: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) (external link)

Legislation

There are two sets of UK Regulations which implement the Directive. These are:

  • the Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations SI 2008/216 
  • the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations SI 2009/890.

These set out:

  • restrictions on the use of mercury and cadmium in new batteries
  • labeling requirements
  • removability of waste batteries from appliances.

They also establish a producer responsibility system for the collection, treatment and recycling of batteries when they become waste.

You must comply with the batteries regulations if your business:

  • manufactures batteries or equipment containing batteries
  • imports batteries into the UK for sale
  • distributes and supplies batteries 
  • is involved in the separate collection, treatment, recycling or export of waste batteries for recycling.

Links to the Regulations are below, together with Government guidance on how the Regulations might affect you.

Visit: Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations SI 2008/216 (external link)

Visit: Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations SI 2009/890 (external link)

Visit: BIS Guidance on the batteries and accumulators (Placing on the market) Regulations 2008 (external link)

Visit: BIS/Defra Guidance on the waste batteries and accumulators Regulations 2009 (external link)

For more information on batteries and how this may relate to your business please see the Welsh Government’s online information service.

Visit: Business Wales (external link) 

Visit: Defra: Portable Batteries (external link)

Useful links

Environment Agency

This site contains information on the European Batteries Directive and the Batteries Regulations. It explains how these may affect businesses including producers, distributors, waste battery treatment sites and waste battery exporters.

Visit: Environment Agency (external link)

Position statement on battery recycling efficiencies

The Environment Agency has issued a position statement. This gives information to treatment operators who are approved under the
Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009. It covers meeting certain recycling efficiencies for lead acid batteries, nickel cadmium batteries and other waste batteries.

Visit: Position statement on battery recycling efficiencies (external link)

Directgov advice for consumers

Directgov gives consumers information on recycling household batteries. This includes:

  • what types of batteries can be recycled and where
  • and why it is important to recycle household and other batteries.  

Visit: Directgov advice for consumers (external link)

National Measurement Office

The National Measurement Office is the market surveillance authority responsible for enforcing the Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008 within the UK.  This site provides information to producers on how they can ensure that their products comply with these Regulations.  

Visit: National Measurement Office (external link)

European Commission - batteries

Information from the European Commission on the Batteries Directive and legislation.

Visit: European Commission - batteries (external link)