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EU Ban on Cadmium in Batteries for Cordless Power Tools Enters into Effect

On 31 December 2016, a ban on cadmium in certain types of batteries came into effect. Hong Kong traders may recall that the framework batteries Directive 2006/66/EC bans virtually all batteries or accumulators, whether or not incorporated into appliances, that contain more than 0.0005% of mercury by weight, as well as portable batteries and accumulators which contain more than 0.002% of cadmium by weight.

The prohibition had not, however, until the end of last year, applied to cadmium in batteries and accumulators used in cordless power tools. Cordless power tools include devices such as  cordless drills, screwdrivers, saws, wrenches and grinders.

Hong Kong’s battery suppliers may furthermore recall that more than a year ago, i.e., on 1 October 2015, a ban on mercury content in button cell batteries had already entered into effect, applying throughout the EU. Such a development was particularly noteworthy, given that button cells are used in a variety of applications including in watches, toys and remote controls.

Since both mercury and cadmium have, for long, been considered dangerous, the exemptions have been subject to review by the European Commission. The reviews ended in the adoption of Directive 2013/56/EU on 20 November 2013, which provided for transitional periods before the respective bans kicked in.

Directive 2013/56/EU provides for the following provisions regarding the use of cadmium and mercury:

  • Button cells containing more than 0.0005% of mercury by weight have been banned since 1 October 2015.
  • Portable batteries and accumulators used in cordless power tools which contain more than 0.002% of cadmium by weight are banned since 31 December 2016.
  • Batteries and accumulators lawfully placed on the market before the date of application of the respective prohibitions stemming from Directive 2013/56/EU and which do not meet its requirements can continue to be marketed until stocks are exhausted.

Hong Kong sellers should also be reminded that, besides the abovementioned changes concerning cadmium and mercury, Directive 2013/56/EU also set down rules regarding the following:

  • Member States are required to ensure that manufacturers design appliances providing for waste batteries and accumulators to be readily removed by qualified professionals independent of the manufacturer.
  • Producers have to register with national authorities or national producer responsibility organisations authorised by Member States in the EU country where they place batteries and accumulators on the market for the first time, and they will be provided with a registration number. Registration fees can be charged by the registration bodies insofar as they are cost-based and proportionate.

The 2013 Directive was required to be implemented throughout the EU by 1 July 2015. Please click on the following link to access Directive 2013/56/EU.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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