Batteries and Accumulators: Placing on the Market Regulations 2008
The UK Placing on the Market Regulations were first introduced in 2008 as ‘The Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008’ (SI 2008 no 2164), which came into force on 26 September 2008. The Regulations were updated in 2012 as ‘The Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012 no 1139), which came into force on 31 May 2012. They implement part of an EU Directive that aims to harmonise across Europe the activities of all those involved in the lifecycle of batteries and accumulators, improving environmental performance. Additional measures under the Directive are implemented through the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations.
- Not place non-button cell batteries containing more than 0.0005% by weight of Mercury on the market;
- Not place button cell batteries containing more than 2% by weight of Mercury on the market;
- Not place batteries containing more than 0.002% of Cadmium on the market*;
- Ensure that portable rechargeable batteries and automotive batteries/accumulators are marked with the charging capacity;
- Ensure batteries are marked with the crossed out wheelie bin symbol;
- Mark button cells with more than 0.005% by weight of Mercury with the symbol “Hg”;
- Mark portable batteries containing more than 0.002% by weight of Cadmium (where permitted) with the chemical symbol “Cd”;
- Mark batteries containing more than 0.004% by weight of lead (where permitted) with the chemical symbol “Pb”;
- Ensure that products containing batteries are designed in such a way that the battery can be ‘readily removed’ from the product, unless this is prohibited by other laws, such as toy safety or medical performance protection;
- Ensure that all products containing batteries have instructions showing how to safely remove and dispose of the battery;
- Cooperate with the UK authorities (or other Member State authorities if appropriate) to demonstrate compliance;
*exclusions and exemptions apply – see the exemptions list for more details.
A number of criminal offences are possible, including:
- Placing batteries on the market with higher than permitted levels of Mercury and Cadmium;
- Failing to mark batteries correctly;
- Failing to meet the product design and documentation requirements;
- Failing to comply with an enforcement notice;
- Failing to provide documents or information when required to do so; and
- Providing false or misleading information.
A ‘due diligence’ defence is possible only in relation to batteries not meeting the permitted levels of Mercury and Cadmium, or not having the correct chemical symbol markings. It is only permissible in cases where it can be proven that all ‘reasonable steps’ were taken to achieve compliance.
Penalties are currently up to £5,000 per offence with the possibility of unlimited fines and imprisonment for directors/statutory officers in some cases. Battery offences are subject to criminal prosecution as they do not currently fall under the Civil Sanctions regime.
Any battery (or battery pack) that is:
Can be ‘readily carried by an average natural person’ (taken to mean not more than 10Kg, and probably 4Kg or less);
Not an automotive or industrial battery.
Button cells are a sub-set of portable batteries and are defined as any small round portable battery whose diameter is greater than its height and which is used for special purposes such as hearing aids, watches, small portable equipment and back up power.
Any battery used as an automotive starter;
Any battery used to power automotive lighting;
Any battery used to power automotive ignition.
NOTE: Automotive batteries covered by the End of Life Vehicles Regulations are not covered by the Placing on the Market Regulations.
Solely for professional use;
Unsealed, but not an automotive battery;
Sealed, but not a portable battery;
Intended for use to power an electric vehicle.
NOTE: button cells cannot be classed as industrial batteries.
Exclusions by use:
Equipment necessary for national security, including arms, munitions and war material, where these items are specifically intended for military purposes;
Equipment designed to be sent into space.
Exclusions by type:
The 0.002% Cadmium restriction does not apply to portable batteries intended for use in:
Emergency and alarm systems, including emergency lighting;
Cordless power tools (defined as a hand-held appliance, powered by a battery and intended for maintenance, construction or gardening activities).
Design requirement exemption
The requirement to ensure access to the battery for removal purposes does not apply where safety, performance, medical or data integrity require continuous supply and there is a permanent connection between the equipment and the battery.