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Posted on : Sep 28, 2008
The European Union has
threatened legal action against member nations who fail to impose rules for
collecting and recycling batteries which are due to come into force this month.

The rules impose targets for collecting old batteries to limit pollution caused
when they are incinerated or buried in leaky landfill sites. However, only seven
of the 27 EU countries have written them into national legislation.

The EU’s Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "The revision of the
Batteries Directive represents another important step towards our goal of making
Europe into a recycling society. By setting collection targets and requiring
recycling, this legislation will also help to protect the health of European
citizens and contribute to making consumption and production in the EU more
sustainable. Those Member States that have not yet transposed it should do so
without delay."

The revised directive aims to avoid the final disposal of batteries in the
environment by enhancing collection and recycling. It also contains restrictions
on the use of some heavy metals. The key changes it introduces are:

Requirements governing the collection or take-back of all types of batteries and
setting national collection targets for portable batteries. These require the
collection of at least 25 percent of the portable batteries used annually in
each Member State by 2012, rising to 45% by 2016.

A requirement that all batteries collected must be recycled (with possible
exemptions for portable hazardous batteries).

Restrictions on the use of mercury in all batteries and on the use of cadmium in
portable batteries.

A ban on the landfilling or incineration of automotive and industrial batteries.

A requirement that recycling processes for different types of batteries must
meet specified efficiency levels.

A requirement that, in line with the principle of producer responsibility,
battery producers have to finance the costs of the collection, treatment and
recycling of waste batteries. In a statement, the European Commission said it
would take legal action any nation that did not "remedy the situation rapidly."

So far only Estonia, Spain, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria and
Slovenia, have implemented the new rules, said EU spokeswoman Barbara Helfferich.
Ireland, Lithuania, Poland and Finland say they are close to doing so.

The new rules impose targets for collecting defunct batteries ranging from
regular AA batteries to those used in mobile phones and laptops. By 2012, a
quarter of all batteries sold must be collected once they run out and recycled.
By 2016, the target will rise to 45 percent.

Distributors will be required to take used batteries and accumulators back at no
charge. The rules also determine how batteries must be recycled once collected.
Use of mercury and cadmium in batteries is restricted under the rules and
dumping car and industrial batteries in landfill sites is banned.

The EU's high court can impose hefty daily fines on nations that fail to
implement European laws.


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