Ni-Cd row delays EU battery law revision

Industry steps up fight to replace prohibition with voluntary recycling targets

Differences over a proposal to introduce an EU-wide ban on nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries have contributed to a delay in plans to update EU battery waste law, ENDS Daily understands.

A ban has been suggested by the European Commission's environment directorate, but European battery firms have vigorously opposed the idea. Other departments within the Commission are also questioning it, industry sources said yesterday. A formal proposal to revise the EU's 1991 battery waste directive should have been adopted this autumn, but will not now be published until January at the earliest, Commission sources confirmed.

The environment directorate wants to phase out Ni-Cd rechargeable batteries entirely by 2008 in the expectation that more environmentally friendly substitutes will be available by then (ENDS Daily 2 August). Industry argues that Ni-Cd batteries are the only technologically and economically feasible solution for many applications for the foreseeable future.

In a new submission to the Commission, made last week, the International Cadmium Association has presented detailed plans for averting a ban by creating and funding an economic interest group to ensure that Ni-Cd battery recycling targets are met by 2004. An earlier version of the industry position has also now been reworded to stress that this would be a commitment by industry rather than an agreement to which the Commission committed on behalf of member states.

ICA executive director Raymond Semples told ENDS Daily he believed that 100% of the cadmium and a substantial amount of nickel could be recycled and pledged that "if we are not meeting targets by [2004] the Commission will have good grounds for a ban."

Follow Up:
International Cadmium Association, tel: +32 2 777 0560.

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