Batteries regulations in the UK come in two forms: those relating to battery markings and content – known as the placing on the market regulations; and those relating to providing for safe disposal at the end of battery or equipment life – known as waste batteries and accumulators regulations.
Placing on the market
The Placing on the Market (POM) regulations set out the obligations on battery producers (importers or manufacturers) in two main areas – the battery markings, and the chemical content.
The marking requirements are that:
- All batteries must be marked with a crossed out wheeled bin symbol – see right – at least 0.5 by 0.5 cms, unless the battery is too small. Where the battery is too small, the mark may appear on the packaging and any related literature;
- Button cell batteries containing more than 0.0005% (by weight) must be marked Hg;
- Any battery containing more than 0.004% (by weight) of lead must be marked Pb;
- Any products containing batteries must be marked so that users know they must remove the batteries before throwing the product away. Instructions on how to remove the battery must be provided with the product except where batteries must not be removed for safety, data integrity or continuity of power reasons.
Additionally, rechargeable batteries must be marked. Portable batteries must have the charging capacity in either mAh (milliampere hours) in whole numbers or Ah (ampere-hours) to one decimal place. Automotive batteries must be marked in whole numbers for both Ah (ampere-hours) and A (cold cranking amperes).
The content requirements detail the limits of certain chemicals in batteries:
- Portable batteries cannot contain more than 0.002% by weight of Cadmium, unless they are for use in emergency or alarm systems; medical equipment or cordless power tools;
- Non-button cell batteries cannot contain more than 0.0005% (by weight) of Mercury.