Will Santa Claus break the law? – The European Batteries Directive

Depending on where you live and what you believe, the answer is unfortunately probably yes.  I live in a country where we believe that Santa Claus comes from Spain by boat and gives presents to the children in the night 5 to 6 December.  Many of you believe that he arrives on the eve of 25 December and comes from the far North.  Either way, looking at what he tends to bring, it is highly probable that the gifts will come in some kind of packaging and that some of the gifts will contain batteries.  In a survey Enhesa completed in November 2009*, we analysed in detail the obligations that have been imposed in 9 European Union member states in transposition of the EU Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC.

In general, the requirements of the Batteries Directive appear to have been fairly consistently transposed.  A major stumbling block for companies looking to market batteries in more than one European country is that each country seems to have invented a different system to cope with the take-back and disposal obligations.  Anyone putting batteries on the market, stand-alone or incorporated in products, is confronted with a myriad of regulatory requirements. Regulations cover such items as different heavy metal restrictions, different labelling requirements, different product registration/notification requirements, different market reporting obligations, different taxes and fees, different take-back and disposal requirements.  Although the European Union Batteries Directive has harmonized some of these requirements, a lot of differences still exist.  I guess Santa-Claus will need a whole department to keep track of the type, quantities, weight of the batteries he puts on the market, to be able to take care of the pre-notification, registration and reporting as required under local law.

How about you? **  Are you safe to send your Season’s Greetings? One of perhaps the most surprising results of the comparison was that, of the countries analysed, only the UK chose to implement the exemption to the requirements of the Batteries Directive for small producers.  This means that many more small producers of batteries may be impacted by the requirements of the Batteries Directive than were originally intended by the EU.  As soon as you send your Christmas card with some battery-driven animation to someone in Europe, you are likely to be violating the regulatory requirements.  Not sure customs will have time to deal with the issue, but you never know.

Seasons’ Greetings (free of batteries and packaging),

Thierry Dumortier

Director, Enhesa

* The 2009 Enhesa Batteries Report is available free of charge on our website.

** Enhesa’s product stewardship services help businesses ensure products are in compliance with local requirements in markets around the world. Services include using regulatory developments to expand markets, building product compliance systems, and improving existing compliance programs. Product supported range from cosmetics and household products, electrics, vehicles, power stations, and airplanes

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