The European Commission has moved to mend a flaw in the 2006 European Union (EU) directive on waste batteries by proposing an amnesty for old batteries that do not meet the law's standards.
Under the directive, batteries with incorrect labelling, with excess cadmium and which cannot be removed from electric devices, would have to be disposed of from September 2008. But the Commission has realised that such a requirement would actually create a boom in battery waste, the complete opposite of the directive's intentions.
A Commission memorandum said: "It would mean that a considerable amount of batteries that were legally placed on the market become waste prematurely. This would be contrary to the principle of waste minimisation. This could also result in appliances becoming waste prematurely."
It added that withdrawing unsold, but legally manufactured batteries from sale or insisting that they are made compliant within the law "would also cause increased administrative burden for member states and for industry."
As a result, Brussels has proposed an amendment to the law that it wants fast-tracked by MEPs and EU ministers, that would allow sold and unsold batteries not meeting the directive's standards to remain in use or for sale from September 2008.
Only batteries manufactured after that date would have to comply with the directive's rules.