Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers

Directive 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators, or the EU Batteries Directive as it is more commonly known, has the aim of minimising the negative impact of batteries on the environment and improving their overall environmental performance.

IIt restricts the use of some materials in batteries (particularly mercury and cadmium) and tasks Member States with encouraging the development of improvements to the environmental performance of batteries and putting in place battery collection schemes.

Member States must also ensure that storage and recycling of spent batteries is appropriate and fit for the purpose. Member States are required to regularly report on progress in the areas covered by this Directive. Under this directive SLI (starting, lighting, ignition) batteries are defined as automotive batteries whereas hybrid and electric vehicle batteries are categorised as industrial batteries. Furthermore, the Battery Directive acts as a framework law, foreseeing further legislation in the field of batteries.

The European Commission has started with the evaluation and revision of the Directive. The objective of which must be to improve the regulatory level-playing field for all battery technologies. Such overall regulatory framework should provide business certainty for EU battery manufacturers, create new opportunities for all battery technologies and deliver jobs, growth and innovation in Europe.

More information on the evaluation can be found here: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/batteries/evaluation.htm

 

Recycling

A number of valuable metals and substances can be extracted from used batteries. This is performed by recycling professionals who meet the same high standards as the rest of the industry and this process is covered by specific legislation.

These materials are reused either in new batteries or other industries. Thousands of tons of metals such as silver, cobalt, nickel and lead can be recovered for these purposes. This ensures environmentally sustainable and responsible production of these materials which are often scarce. For example, the lead used in lead based batteries operate in a closed loop, with 99 % of a battery’s lead being recoverable and can be used in new batteries.

Other battery components are likewise recycled, either being used in the production of new batteries or by other industries (Sodium Nickel Chloride batteries’ waste can be used in existing industries such as in the production of stainless steel and road pavement, for example). End-of-life batteries’ materials are often extracted by battery manufacturers or their subsidiaries which allows them to safely feed back into the battery production process directly.

Numerous safeguards exist to ensure that waste from batteries is properly controlled. Legislation, industry standards and guidelines dictate how used automotive and industrial batteries are handled and their waste carefully dealt with. These high standards follow batteries through their life cycle to ensure that there is minimal impact to the environment with the entire supply chain regulated to maintain strict controls. Particular care is taken when batteries reach the end of their life when they are disposed of in a safe manner by disposal experts.

For more information on legislation concerning waste batteries see the section on EU Policy or visit the European Commission’s page on waste batteries, http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/batteries/index.htm.