Commission publishes evaluation of the EU Batteries Directive
The Commission has completed the evaluation of the Batteries Directive the only piece of EU legislation entirely dedicated to batteries. The report of this evaluation was published on the 3 April 2019.
The evaluation concludes that the Directive has delivered positive results in terms of a better environment, the promotion of recycling and better functioning of the internal market for batteries and recycled materials. However, limitations in some legal provisions or their implementation prevent the Directive from fully delivering on its objectives. This is particularly true as regards the collection of waste batteries or the efficiency in the recovery of materials.
The Directive has contributed to reducing the use of hazardous substances in batteries and to preventing waste portable batteries from being landfilled or incinerated, but not up to the level envisaged. Risks for the environment therefore persist.
Most Member States have met or exceeded the 2012 target for the collection of waste portable batteries (set at 25 %), but only 14 Member States have met the 2016 target (set at 45 %). The evaluation points out that these targets are generally insufficient to ensure a high level of collection of waste portable batteries.
The management of used batteries remains a concern within the EU. An estimated 56.7 % of all waste portable batteries are not collected, annually. This amount is significant enough to jeopardise the achievement of the directive’s environmental protection objectives.
The vast majority of waste batteries collected in the EU are recycled in line with the Directive’s requirements. Moreover, battery-recycling processes did meet the efficiency targets set by the directive, particularly for lead-acid batteries and to a lesser extent for nickel-cadmium and ‘other’ batteries. However, the Directive’s overall objective to achieve a high level of material recovery is not being met.
In the light of technical progress and practical experience gained, it can be concluded that the current minimum collection targets for waste portable batteries and the minimum recycling requirements are not appropriate. Further targets for collection and recycling should therefore be considered.
The results of the evaluation also underline how the absence of a mechanism to incorporate technical and social changes into the directive makes it difficult to ensure that it keeps pace with relevant developments in this field.
The evaluation is part of a process that could lead to the Directive’s revision. It has taken account of the increased use of batteries, due to the diversification of communication technologies or the growing demand for renewable energies.
The evaluation has also contributed to preparing the Commission Report on the implementation of the Batteries Directive.
The process of evaluation involved significant participation of stakeholders, who were consulted or invited to submit their ideas and views and provide information. A public consultation has been held from 6/9/2017 to 28/11/17. Representatives of the Member States and stakeholders participated in a meeting of the Expert Group on Waste (Batteries) on 14/3/18, where the initial findings of the Study in Support of the Evaluation were presented.