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Battery recycling law agreed by EU

The European Union (EU) reached a conciliation agreement on the new Battery Directive yesterday.

This means that the EU agreed on the text of the impending law to make battery recycling compulsory from 2008, although the European Parliament and representatives from member states will have another chance to vote on the draft directive.

Welcoming the move EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “Now it is time to start implementing the provisions of the new Battery Directive. The faster we start to collect and recycle batteries, the better for the environment.”

The aim of the directive is to ensure that all batteries in the EU are collected and recycled at the end of their useful lives – preventing their incineration and disposal.

Minimum collection targets of 25% of the average annual battery sales over the past three years will need to be met by 2012, rising to 45% by 2016. At least half of the collected batteries that do not contain lead or cadmium must be recycled – a target the European Parliament initially wanted to increase to 55%.

Batteries that do contain cadmium and lead will have to achieve recycling targets of 75% and 65% respectively.

The new directive will make producers financially responsible for the waste management of batteries, but the European Parliament and council agreed on a “de minimis rule” that gives member states the possibility to exempt small producers from their financial responsibilities.

The EU’s agreement also requires that batteries can be removable from appliances so they can be recycled, and that the batteries are labelled to show how long they will last.

Once the directive is formally adopted by the European Parliament and council, member states will have two years within which to transpose it into national law.

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