The European Commission (EC) has launched a consultation that will consider a ban on cadmium in batteries for cordless power tools such as electric drills.
Currently, such tools are exempt from restrictions under the batteries directive.
The directive bans the sale of batteries containing 0.002% or more of cadmium by weight. Exemptions other than cordless power tools include emergency and alarm systems including emergency lighting and medical equipment.
A study found that nickel-cadmium batteries represent a 55% market share for cordless power tools in Europe. However, the study also suggests that these batteries can be replaced with substitutes without causing significant technical difficulties or serious economic consequences.
It is thought that the use of nickel-cadmium is decreasing while sales of lithium-ion batteries, representing 36% of the European market, are on the increase. Nickel-metal hydride is a less popular option used in power tools with a 9% market share.
So it seems that, regardless of a ban or not, the market is moving away from cadmium, a trend that started some four or five years ago. As part of the consultation raw material suppliers, battery manufacturers, recyclers and cordless power tool manufacturers will be asked when the ban should be introduced and what the economic consequences might be.
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