MEPs ban cadmium from power tool batteries and mercury from button cells
A law banning the toxic substance cadmium from portable batteries and accumulators used in cordless power tools such as drills, screwdrivers or saws, was voted by Parliament on Thursday. This ban, already agreed with EU ministers, will apply from 31 December 2016. MEPs also inserted a clause banning mercury from button cells from autumn 2015.
"I am confident that the adopted measures will improve the current legislation by closing gaps in the directive. The goal of this legislation is to enable a less costly transition for all in the value chain and to ensure enhanced protection of the environment and human health" said EP rapporteur Vladko Todorov Panayotov (ALDE, BG). "I believe that this agreement sends a strong message to everyone about cadmium and mercury (...) This change will allow Europe to innovate in the field of batteries, materials, and recycling" he added.
The report was approved by 578 votes to 17, with 5 abstentions.
Parliament inserted the ban on mercury in button cells (used in watches, toys, remote controls, etc.) to help reduce the risk of mercury polluting the environment. Button cells easily escape separate waste collection schemes, thus increasing the risk that they will pollute the environment.
The new rules will allow existing batteries and accumulators to be sold until stocks are exhausted. Manufacturers will need to design appliances to ensure that waste batteries and accumulators can be easily removed, at least by independent professionals.
When the ban comes into force, Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) batteries will only be allowed for use in emergency systems and lighting, such as alarms, and in medical equipment. In other appliances, they are being replaced mainly by Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) alternatives.
Cadmium, which is carcinogenic and toxic for the aquatic environment, is already banned in jewellery, brazing sticks and all plastics, under the REACH regulation on chemicals.
The existing "Batteries Directive" prohibits the placing on the market of portable batteries and accumulators, including those incorporated in devices or products, which contain more than 0.002% of cadmium by weight, with exceptions for certain categories of products.
The proposed revision will end the current exemption for cordless power tools on 31 January 2016.
Procedure: Co-decision, (Ordinary Legislative Procedure) 1st reading