Monday June 07, 2021
Re-Charge: Battery Developments in the EU and UKBy Tracey Bischofberger, Cooley LLP
Batteries are in the sights of law makers and regulators in Europe. A proposed new regulation on batteries is working its way through the European Union legislative process. Over in the UK, a fast track standard on safety requirements for button and coin cell batteries sponsored by the UK regulator has been published and the UK government is also looking to review and enhance the current UK producer responsibility laws on batteries.
In the European Union, the Commission's proposed new legislation on batteries published in December 2020 (PSL, 1/11/21 and 4/12/21) is continuing to work its way through the EU's legislative process. The European Parliament and Council are currently each examining the proposal in various committees and working parties. The rules in the current EU Batteries Directive (2006/66/EC) largely address the end-of-life stage of batteries. The proposed new rules seek to introduce requirements that cover the lifecycle of batteries, from design and production to reuse and recycling and impose obligations on the manufacturer, importer and distributor. It introduces new obligations that batteries must comply with in order to be placed on the EU market covering aspects of safety, sustainability, electrochemical performance and durability, labelling and information requirements.
In the United Kingdom, a Publicly Available Specification (known as a PAS) to address safety issues posed by button (non-lithium) and coin (lithium) batteries was published on 30 April 2021, sponsored by the UK Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS). PAS 7055:2021 "Button and coin batteries – Safety requirements – Specification" was described by the OPSS in a press release published on 27 May as specifying "safety requirements for button and coin batteries up to 32 mm in diameter to mitigate the risk of ingestion. It also defines the safety requirements for manufacturers and producers of button and coin batteries, including the consumer products that use them, and the retailers and distributors of these products. The requirements cover labelling, instructions and packaging, alignment of safety and health warnings, merchandising, safe disposal and product safety of typical consumer products using button and coin batteries". A PAS is a fast-track standard developed to fulfil an "immediate need" in an industry.
The UK General Product Safety Regulations 2005 requires that consumer products placed on the market are safe and the introductory text of PAS 7055:2021 notes that it "provides requirements that assist in this goal".
The UK government is also looking to review and enhance the current UK producer responsibility laws on batteries. Policy documents have indicated that this may include the introduction of new mandatory labelling requirements (among other things). It is not yet known whether upcoming changes to the UK legislation on batteries will follow the same approach being taken by the EU under the proposed batteries regulation or diverge. However, the UK regulator has signaled that the UK is willing to take its own path with the publication of PAS 7055:2021.
The European Commission's webpage for the draft legislative proposal on batteries can be found at bit.ly/34NrmkB. A copy of PAS 7055:2021 can be found at bit.ly/3vQhToI. and a copy of the press release from the OPSS can be downloaded from bit.ly/3yZUp2e.
Dispatch from the EU is a monthly feature provided exclusively for PSL subscribers by Cooley LLP, www.cooley.com. For further information about the above, contact Rod Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org