A new European Union Directive requiring companies to recycle
the batteries they sell has come into full force but only seven out
of the EU's 27 countries have complied with it.01 Oct 2008
The Batteries Directive was passed two years ago and requires laws to be passed ordering producers of batteries to pay for the collection, treatment and recycling of batteries.
The deadline for member states to pass the demands into law passed last Friday but only seven countries have met that requirement. They are Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Malta, The Netherlands, Slovenia and Spain. Finland. Ireland, Poland and Lithuania claim that their legislation is written but not yet in force, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency.
Directives do not take direct effect, they simply act as instructions to member states to pass laws putting them into effect. Countries generally have two years to implement them, as has been the case with the Batteries Directive.
“The revision of the Batteries Directive represents another important step towards our goal of making Europe into a recycling society," Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said. "Those Member States that have not yet transposed it should do so without delay."
"The Commission will take any necessary infringement action against Member States which have not communicated their transposition measures if they do not remedy the situation rapidly," said a Commission statement.
The UK Government implemented some parts of the Directive by the deadline of 26th September. Those were the parts of the Directive referred to as the 'internal market' provisions.
The Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008 restrict the use of certain materials in batteries, order changes in the labeling of batteries to help recycling and demand that certain kinds of batteries be removable.
The Directive also demands that the producers of batteries pay for their collection and recycling, and that consumers have an easy way to deposit them for collection. Those parts of the Directive have not been implemented in the UK. The results of a consultation by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) were only published during summer. BERR said in that response that it would consult further on the taking back of batteries by producers later in the autumn.
"We recognise that there will be a delay in transposing the portable provisions of the Batteries Directive," said the response. "We expect the delay to be some weeks however we aim to transpose before the end of the year. The delay is mainly due to the very considerable complexity involved in setting up an effective and efficient system for portable batteries."
BERR said that consultations would be launched in the autumn for industrial and automotive batteries as well.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which shares responsibility for battery policy, has said that distance sellers must also comply with the battery producer obligations. It said that it was considering the option of postal returns for companies selling goods online or through other distance selling methods.
The Directive mandates that a minimum of 25% of portable batteries are recycled by 2012, rising to 45% by 2016.
The UK has a poor record on the recycling of batteries, with only 3% of batteries being recycled.