The aim of the act is to transpose into national law Directive 2006/66/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 September 2006 on batteries and accumulators and repealing Directive 91/157/EWG. This directive was amended by Directive 2013/56/EU in 2013 and had to be transposed into national law by 1 July 2015. The Battery Act (BattG) was amended by the first act amending the Battery Act and the Circular Economy Act in order to transpose the batteries directive. The act entered into force on 26 November 2015.
The first act amending the Battery Act and the Circular Economy Act Core provisions of the first act amending the Battery Act and the Circular Economy Act deal with the placing on the market of portable batteries containing cadmium and intended for use in cordless power tools, and of button cells with low mercury contents. In addition to implementing European provisions, the act also contains editorial and clarifying changes to the Battery Act.
The Battery Act prohibits the placing on the market of batteries with more than 0.0005 percent of mercury by weight. Button cells and batteries composed of button cells with more than 2 percent of mercury by weight may not be placed on the market after 1 October 2015. It is also prohibited to place on the market portable batteries with more than 0.002 percent of cadmium by weight. Portable batteries for emergency or alarm systems including emergency lighting, medical equipment and cordless power tools are exempt from this prohibition. The exemption for the use of portable batteries with more than 0.002 percent of cadmium by weight for cordless power tools ended on 31 December 2016.
Obligations of distributors
Retailers have to take back used batteries from consumers free of charge and hand them over to the manufacturers for recycling or disposal. Distributors have to inform consumers about the options for returning batteries. Distributors of automotive batteries (starter batteries for vehicles) are obligated to charge a deposit of 7.50 Euros including value-added tax from end consumers if they do not return a used battery when purchasing a new one. The deposit will be paid back when the automotive battery is returned. Distributors offering automotive batteries using distance communication will be given the option of returning the deposit by accepting a proof of return instead of the actual used battery. The proof must document the proper disposal, for example through a public waste management utility or a local retailer. Distributors who offer batteries of the same kind are obligated to take back used automotive batteries free of charge and provide proof to the consumer.
Obligations of public waste management authorities
Public waste management authorities are now obligated to take back free of charge used portable batteries, which consumers in turn have to from waste equipment pursuant to the ElectroG. If public waste management authorities offer the option of returning used automotive batteries, they have to do so free of charge, and they have to provide proof to the consumer.
Obligations of the manufacturers
Batteries containing harmful substances have to be labelled. Batteries may only be placed on the market by manufacturers if they have previously notified the Federal Environment Agency of their participation in the market and made return options available to the consumer. Manufacturers can ensure this either by joining a common return system or setting up and operating their own approved return system in line with Section 7 of the Battery Act. Regarding requirements for return and disposal, every system is subject to the same requirements as the common return system.
Obligations of consumers
Consumers are obligated to return used batteries to retailers or to collection points set up by public waste management authorities (for example mobile pollutant collection centre or recycling centers).