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    Do the 2008 and 2009 Battery Regulations impact your business?

    Did you know there were two pieces of legislation?

    Well, the 2008 regulations cover substance restrictions and labelling while the focus of the 2009 regulations is around registration and recycling.




    2008 UK Battery Regulations


    These requirements should be the same in all European Union (EU) Member States.




    Chemical restrictions and labelling


    Substance restrictions and chemical symbol marking requirements from the UK 2008 regulations are listed in the table below:



    SubstanceRestrictionsMarking required (all batteries)
    Mercury0.0005% except button cells limit is 0.2%Hg if > 0.0005%
    Cadmium0.002% in portable batteries*Cd if > 0.002%
    LeadNonePb if > 0.004%

    * Exemptions from the cadmium restriction apply to medical applications, power tools and emergency and alarm systems including lighting.

    The concentrations above are percentage by weight of the battery or battery pack.


    Note that batteries in vehicles covered by the ELV (End of Life Vehicles) directive are excluded as these have different restrictions.





    Marking batteries


    All batteries must be marked with the crossed wheelie bin symbol unless there is insufficient space for a symbol of at least 0.5 x 0.5 cm. If there is not enough space then mark the packaging instead with a symbol of at least 1 x 1 cm.

    Also mark batteries (beneath the wheelie bin symbol) with chemical symbols if required (see above table) – the chemical symbols must be marked on the battery even if there is insufficient space for the wheelie bin symbol.



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    Battery capacity marking


    Indicating battery capacity is a requirement but the European Commission (EC) has not yet published the method for capacity marking. This is long overdue and no obligations in the EU are likely until 2012 at the earliest.




    Battery packs


    Battery pack marking is the same as for batteries sold individually. However, the individual cells within battery packs do not need to be marked as users are not intended to separate cells within packs.



    Batteries in electrical equipment


    Batteries supplied in equipment have the same substance restrictions and must be marked in the same way as batteries supplied separately. Where there is insufficient space on the battery for the wheelie bin symbol, this is printed on the equipment packaging although there is no need to print this symbol twice if it is already present for compliance with WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) legislation.


    There are specific requirements for equipment design and equipment that is within the scope of the WEEE directive must have the following characteristics:


    • Equipment must be designed to enable users to replace batteries.
    • Instructions for replacing batteries must be supplied with the equipment.
    • The requirement for equipment to be designed to enable the user to replace batteries is interpreted as replacement of batteries in the normal way. It would be acceptable for this to be carried out by a professional engineer if this is standard practice whereas if consumers would normally expect to be able to change batteries, then this must be possible.
    • There are exemptions from the requirement that replacement of batteries should be possible by the user:
    o Safety – removal of the battery creates a safety risk
    o Performance – where this would be affected by removal of the battery
    o Medical – exemption for all medical devices
    o Data integrity – where data would be lost if the battery were removed
    If this exemption is utilised, the reasons should be clearly explained in the product’s technical documentation.





    Enforcement of the 2008 UK battery regulations is the responsibility of NMO (National Measurement Office) who also enforce RoHS in the UK. NMO has already examined batteries from the UK market and found many to be non-compliant. The most common failure is the size of the crossed wheelie bin symbol. Batteries with mercury or cadmium beyond the permitted levels and batteries with >0.004% lead but not having the Pb symbol are also common. NMO has also found equipment where batteries could not be easily removed or there were no removal instructions supplied with the product.



    2009 UK Battery Regulations


    Requirements from these regulations may be different to other EU Member States.


    Who is responsible?


    • Producers as defined by:
    o Manufacturers of batteries in the UK
    o Importers of batteries into the UK from other EU States or outside of the EU
    o Manufacturers of equipment in the UK who sell equipment containing batteries
    o Importers of equipment containing batteries into the UK from other EU States or outside of the EU


    • A UK company that supplies batteries or equipment containing batteries is not a battery producer if they obtain the batteries from a supplier in the UK, and therefore would not have the responsibilities of a battery producer.

    • Distributors of batteries and equipment containing batteries also includes retailers. If a distributor imports batteries or equipment containing batteries into the UK, they would also be battery producers.


    Note that distance sellers located outside the UK who sell batteries directly to UK users have no responsibilities unlike distance sellers of electrical equipment covered by the UK WEEE legislation.


    There are three types of batteries each having different obligations which are summarised below:







    Sealed and can be hand carried and is not industrial or automotive

    Designed exclusively for use in industrial applications or for running electric vehicles

    Designed specifically for vehicle ignition and lights, etc. Excludes electric vehicle batteries


    Yes if supply < 1 tonne p.a. (via BCS if > 1 tonne)



    Joining Battery Compliance Schemes (BCS)

    Yes if supply > 1 tonne p.a.

    Compulsory only if they also sell portable batteries

    Compulsory only if they also sell portable batteries


    Should be recycled (to meet targets)but landfill is permitted

    Landfill and incineration are not permitted

    Landfill and incineration are not permitted


    Arranged by BCS

    Producer take-back industrial batteries

    Producer take-back automotive batteries


    Quarterly sales data to BCS

    Sales and collection data to BIS

    Sales and collection data to BIS


    BIS = UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (previously, BERR and DTI)



    Portable batteries


    Obligations for Producers


    Different obligations apply depending on the quantity placed on the UK market. Note that batteries that are exported out of the UK should not be counted.

    • Batteries Put On The Market (POTM) > 1 tonne per year: Producers must join an approved Battery Compliance Scheme (BCS) that will register their members, report relevant data to the authorities and collect and recycle portable batteries. Producers need to report data quarterly and broken down into lead-acid, nickel-cadmium and “other” portable batteries. Producers do not normally need to collect portable batteries unless their battery compliance scheme fails.
    • Batteries POTM < 1 tonne per year: Producers must register directly with the relevant Environment Agency, there is a £30 fee but do not need to join a BCS.


    Distributor obligations


    From 1 February 2010, distributors of batteries who supply more than 32 kg of portable batteries per year must provide take-back facilities and collect all types of portable batteries. This obligation does not apply to UK distributors of equipment that contain batteries unless they also sell portable batteries separately. Retailers should provide collection points in stores and UK distance sellers could provide free return by post. Distributors of batteries must also provide information to users about their take-back arrangements.

    Portable batteries collected by distributors must be collected free of charge by Battery Compliance Schemes (BCS) however should a distributor that supplies less than 32kg of portable batteries per year decide to collect used batteries, the BCS would not be obliged to collect the batteries from these distributors.


    Thanks to ERA Technology for their input on this article.





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