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Prohibition of hazardous substances and safety risks

According to Article 1(1), among others, the Directive establishes rules regarding a prohibition on the placing on the market of batteries and accumulators containing hazardous substances. Article 4(1) of the Directive specifies the following prohibitions:

(a) all batteries or accumulators, whether or not incorporated into appliances, that contain more than 0,0005 % of mercury by weight; and

(b) portable batteries or accumulators, including those incorporated into appliances, that contain more than 0,002 % of cadmium by weight.”

Articles 4(2-4) provide a few exemptions from these prohibitions for:

(a) button cells with a mercury content of no more than 2 % by weight, until 1 October 2015;

(b) batteries and accumulators intended for use in:

(I) emergency and alarm systems, including emergency lighting (validity not specified);

(II) medical equipment (validity not specified); or

(III) cordless power tools until 31 December 2016.

Article 5 of the Directive expects Member States to promote research and encourage improvements in the overall environmental performance of batteries and accumulators also supporting the development and marketing of batteries and accumulators which contain smaller quantities of dangerous substances or which contain less polluting substances, in particular as substitutes for mercury, cadmium and lead. Article 21 further requires the labelling of batteries, accumulators and button cells containing more than 0,0005 % mercury, more than 0,002 % cadmium or more than 0,004 % lead, with the chemical symbol for the metal concerned: Hg, Cd or Pb respectively.

Specific recycling requirements (efficiency targets) are specified for cadmium and lead batteries and accumulators n Annex III Part B, in order to attain a high level of material recovery throughout the Community and to prevent disparities between Member States.

Certain stipulations are made in the Directive in relation to use of the hazardous substances cadmium, lead and mercury in batteries and accumulators, clarifying that in some cases limitations are needed o the use of such substances in these products. The Directive does not specify the criteria to be used to prohibit other substances, which had been shown to exhibit a similar level of hazardousness or to create risks for the environment during certain phase of their lifecycle.