Batteries and Accumulators Directive

1. Issued by / date / date of implementation

European Parliament, Council / 06.09.2006 (30.05.2018, last update / 28.09.2008, at the latest (national implementation)

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2. Type of legislation

Directive of the European Union, which must be transposed into national legislation in all EU member states in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.

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3. General purpose

  • Batteries and accumulators are used on a large scale, they are also converted into hazardous wastes at about the same rate. Hazards as those linked to heavy metals contained in batteries and accumulators are associated with their whole life cycle. Heavy metals, like cadmium, mercury or lead, that are contained in batteries and accumulators are hazardous to human health and environment. The primary objective of the Directive is to minimize the negative impact of batteries and accumulators and waste on the environment.
  • Prohibition of batteries or accumulators that exceed a threshold value for the content of mercury and cadmium. The exemptions are described in Article 4.
  • Promote the collection and recycling of batteries and accumulators and reduce the environmental impact of these products during their life cycle.
  • The aim of the regulation is to reduce the amount of hazardous substances that can be released into the environment. The main focus is on mercury, cadmium and lead; this is to be achieved by reducing the content of these substances in batteries and accumulators, as well as by recycling and reusing these substances or the substances they contain.

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4. Substitution relevant paragraphs

Article 2


(1) This Directive shall apply to all types of batteries and accumulators, regardless of their shape, volume, weight, material composition or use. It shall apply without prejudice to Directives 2000/53/EC and 2002/96/EC.

(2) This Directive shall not apply to batteries and accumulators used in:

(a) equipment connected with the protection of Member States' essential security interests, arms, munitions and war material, with the exclusion of products that are not intended for specifically military purposes;

(b) equipment designed to be sent into space.

Article 4


1. Without prejudice to Directive 2000/53/EC, Member States shall prohibit the placing on the market of:

(a) all batteries or accumulators, whether or not incorporated into appliances, that contain more than 0,0005 % of mercury by weight; and

(b) portable batteries or accumulators, including those incorporated into appliances, that contain more than 0,002 % of cadmium by weight.

2. The prohibition set out in paragraph 1(a) shall not apply to button cells with a mercury content of no more than 2 % by weight until 1 October 2015.

3. The prohibition set out in paragraph 1(b) shall not apply to portable batteries and accumulators intended for use in:

(a) emergency and alarm systems, including emergency lighting;

(b) medical equipment; or

(c) cordless power tools; this exemption in respect of cordless power tools shall apply until 31 December 2016.

4. As regards button cells for hearing aids, the Commission shall maintain under review the exemption referred to in paragraph 2 and report to the European Parliament and the Council on the availability of button cells for hearing aids which are in compliance with paragraph 1(a) no later than 1 October 2014. Where justified due to the lack of availability of button cells for hearing aids which are in compliance with paragraph 1(a), the Commission shall accompany its report by an appropriate proposal with a view to extending the exemption referred to in paragraph 2 with regard to button cells for hearing aids.

Article 8

Collection schemes

1. Member States shall ensure that appropriate collection schemes are in place for waste portable batteries and accumulators. Such schemes:

(a) shall enable end-users to discard waste portable batteries or accumulators at an accessible collection point in their vicinity, having regard to population density;

(b) shall require distributors to take back waste portable batteries or accumulators at no charge when supplying portable batteries or accumulators, unless an assessment shows that alternative existing schemes are at least as effective in attaining the environmental aims of this Directive. Member States shall make public such assessments;

(c) shall not involve any charge to end-users when discarding waste portable batteries or accumulators, nor any obligation to buy a new battery or accumulator;

Article 9

Economic instruments

Member States may use economic instruments to promote the collection of waste batteries and accumulators or to promote the use of batteries and accumulators containing less polluting substances, for instance by adopting differential tax rates. If they do so, they shall notify the measures related to the implementation of those instruments to the Commission.

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5. Assessment of relevance for substitution

The European Directive on batteries and accumulators, as well as waste batteries and accumulators, has been transposed into national legislation by the member states of the European Union. The directive aims to reduce the pollution of the environment by substances such as cadmium, mercury and lead.

A reduction of hazardous substances in new batteries and accumulators should be achieved by setting threshold values. By mandatory collection rates (from 2016: 45%) of used batteries and accumulators, generated hazardous substances are to be returned to the life cycle as far as possible and recycled according to existing "best available techniques" (BAT). At the same time, labeling of products should inform for the end user about hazardous substances. Recycling of used batteries and accumulators in end products should be facilitated.

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6. Link to the legal text

DIRECTIVE 2006/66/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 6 September 2006 on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators and repealing Directive 91/157/EEC

Consolidated version (as at: 04.07.2018)

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7. Further information

7.1 Studies or publications about the legislation or its impact

  • European Commission on batteries and accumulators:
  • EU Report: Comparative Life-Cycle Assessment of nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries used in Cordless Power Tools (CPTs) vs. their alternatives nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) and lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. European Commission – DG ENV, 15.12.2011, Ref. Ares(2012)1247581 - 22/10/2012.
  • BMU on the EU Directive on Batteries and Accumulators: (German)

About the implementation in Germany:

  • BMU on the Battery Act (BattG)
  • Act on the marketing, return and environmentally sound disposal of batteries and accumulators (Battery Act - BattG) (German)
  • Information from the Federal Environment Agency on use, disposal and alternatives: (German)

Last update: 06.12.2021

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