The European Battery Directive 2006/66/EC – effects, benefits and perspectives


The handling and, in particular, disposal of batteries and accumulators are subject to defined regulations, which have become binding on the part of the European Commission through the European Battery Directive 2006/66/EC. The regulation was adopted into German law in 2015 in the form of the nationwide Battery Act (BattG) and regulates the maximum permissible heavy metal and pollutant content in portable and automotive batteries as well as take-back, disposal and labelling obligations on the part of industry, end consumers, traders and public disposal companies, including the relevant modalities.

What is the European Battery Directive?

The European Battery Directive 2006/66/EC governs the marketing, labelling, take-back and disposal of batteries and accumulators in the Member States of the European Union, imposes obligations on producers, consumers and retailers in this regard and sets maximum limits for pollutants and heavy metals contained in batteries. The long-term aim is also to increase the multiple use of portable batteries. The regulation was converted into national law in November 2015 by what is called the Battery Act (BattG) and has since been in force throughout Germany.

What is the expected benefit of the directive?

Based on the provisions contained in the regulation, experts expect sustainable positive effects to be achieved for the environment through a noticeable reduction in pollution caused by heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium. In addition, the use of organised take-back systems reduces expenditure on the disposal of waste batteries and represents a cost-effective recycling option for raw materials.

The European Battery Directive – who is affected and what are the obligations?

The regulation is aimed at manufacturers and retailers of batteries or battery-powered devices and, with regard to disposal regulations, also at consumers and public waste disposal authorities. As a distribution channel, retailers are obliged to take back waste batteries free of charge and to pass them on to the manufacturer for legal disposal, whereby consumers must be informed of the possibility of returning them for free. In addition, public waste disposal authorities are now obliged to take back waste portable batteries free of charge, while producers and distributors (e.g. importers) must label any batteries and accumulators produced or put into circulation by them with regard to their pollutant content, notify the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) of their market participation in the BattG-Melderegister (BattG register), and ensure that the end consumer can return the batteries for free. Consumers are obliged to separate waste batteries from the carrier and to return them to the trader (retailer) or to collection points operated by public waste disposal authorities. Last but not least, the legislator and its bodies are required to ensure that the implementation of the provisions contained in BattG is verified as effectively as possible.

What points does the EU Battery Directive contain?

The regulation defines requirements for recycling and collection programmes, governs the obligations of manufacturers, distributors and consumers and massively limits the maximum permitted mercury and cadmium content of batteries. Energy sources with a mercury content of more than 0.0005 per cent and/or a cadmium content of more than 0.002 per cent as well as batteries in the form of button cells or stacks of button cells with more than 2 per cent mercury by weight may no longer be placed on the market from 1st October 2015. Exceptions to this rule exist for portable batteries for alarm or emergency systems (e.g. emergency lighting) and for batteries for medical equipment.

What we at Deutsche Recycling Service GmbH can do for you

The purchasing, use and disposal of batteries and other accumulators always require knowledge of specific requirements and laws. We keep abreast of the individual country-specific options regarding the registration and professional disposal of used batteries and know from experience which take-back systems work reliably and are profitable for you. Let us advise you now!