Brussels, 20 December 2004
The European Commission welcomes the swift political agreement reached today by the Environment Council on a proposed new Directive on batteries and accumulators. The Directive aims at collecting and recycling all waste batteries and at preventing their incineration and disposal. Waste batteries can cause environmental and health problems due to the heavy metals that they contain. Today’s agreement includes the setting of binding collection and recycling targets, and a partial ban on portable (ie consumer) cadmium batteries.
Environment Commissioner Starvos Dimas welcomed the agreement on the binding collection and recycling targets and on the partial cadmium ban. He cautioned however that “experience with existing collection schemes shows that the agreed time-frame for achieving the 45% collection rate, which is eight years after the transposition date, is unnecessarily long. The faster we act now in collecting and recycling, the better for the environment and the more cost-effective.”
The Council’s most important amendment to the original Commission Proposal is the introduction of a partial ban on portable cadmium batteries and the deletion of the proposed 80% collection target for these batteries (calculated on the basis of the amount collected plus the amount discarded in the municipal solid waste stream). The ban on portable cadmium batteries would not apply to those used for emergency and alarm systems, medical equipment and cordless power tools. However, the exemption for cordless power tools will be reviewed, on the basis of a co-decision procedure involving the Council and European Parliament, four years after the date for transposing the directive into national law.
The portable cadmium batteries which are not covered by the ban will be collected through collection schemes to be set up under this directive or, if incorporated in appliances, under the directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). They are also covered by the general collection targets for all portable batteries.
The agreement sets collection targets of 25% and 45% of the average annual sales over the past three years, to be achieved respectively four and eight years after the transposition of the Directive. The Commission had proposed a general collection target of 160 grams per inhabitant (corresponding to approximately 40% of the annual sales). The Commission reminded the Environment Ministers that experience with existing collection schemes shows that the Council’s time-frame for achieving the 45% collection rate (eight years after the transposition date) would be unnecessarily long.