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On the 10th of October 2013, the European Parliament voted positive on a new law to ban mercury in button cell batteries from autumn 2015 and phase out the current exemption of cadmium accumulator’s application for cordless power tools by 31st of January 2016. The changes will be implemented by a new law amending the European Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC.

The European Battery Directive currently in force allows the use of nickel-cadmium batteries in certain product categories like emergency and alarm systems (including emergency lighting), medical equipment, or cordless power tools. Those applications are an exception of the general cadmium restriction of 0,002% in portable batteries and accumulators. After enforcement of the new law the use of this type of batteries will be further limited for the use in emergency systems and lighting as well as in medical equipment. Power tools makers will need to turn to alternative technologies like lithium-ion-batteries. Manufacturers are also required to consider a possibility for an easy removing of waste batteries, at least by professional parties, in the design of their products.

Additionally to the tightening of cadmium bans the European Parliament continues its policy to remove mercury from waste streams and environment by including a ban of mercury in button cells. Such batteries are commonly used in small electronic devices like watches, toys or remote controls. It is currently not indicated if the ban of mercury in button cells will align with the current Battery Directive mercury limit of 0,0005 % for other battery types or result in another limit.

After implementation of the new law affected batteries and accumulators may be sold until the stock is exhausted. 

Information Resource: European Parliament News