Business and enterprise – guidance

Batteries and accumulators (placing on the market) regulations: compliance and guidance

Complying with the batteries and accumulators (placing on the market) regulations for manufacturers.

The Batteries and Accumulators and Waste Batteries and Accumulators Directive aims to help protect the environment by:

  • making it compulsory to collect and recycle batteries and accumulators
  • preventing batteries and accumulators from being incinerated or dumped in landfills
  • restricting the substances used in batteries and accumulators

If you design or manufacture any type of battery or accumulator for the UK market, including batteries that are incorporated in appliances, they must contain the agreed levels of prohibited materials, be labelled correctly and be readily removable.

Find out what types of batteries are regulated.

Prohibited materials

Mercury

Batteries cannot contain more than 0.0005% of mercury by weight. However, button cells can contain up to 2% mercury by weight if marked Hg and placed on the market before 1 October 2015.

Cadmium

Batteries cannot contain more than 0.002% of cadmium by weight unless labelled Cd and falling into the following categories:

  • portable batteries intended solely for alarm systems, emergency lighting and medical equipment
  • cordless power-tools placed on the market before 1 January 2017
  • industrial batteries
  • automotive batteries

Lead

Batteries cannot contain more than 0.004% of lead by weight unless marked Pb.

Labelling batteries correctly

All chemical labelling on batteries must be visible, legible and indelible. Batteries must also be labelled with a crossed out wheeled bin as shown below.

Crossed out wheeled bin

This symbol must cover:

  • at least 3% of the surface area of the largest side of a non-cylindrical battery or battery pack, or
  • at least 1.5% of the total surface area of a cylindrical battery, and, in either case, up to a maximum size of 5cm x 5cm

If a battery is so small that the size of the symbol would be less than 0.5 x 0.5 cm, then you must place the symbol on the packaging, but it must be at least 1cm x 1cm.

Where a battery is provided within another piece of equipment and it is impractical to mark the battery, the symbol must be marked on the packaging of the product.

Chemical symbols

Any chemical symbols required must:

  • be directly below the crossed out wheeled bin and
  • cover an area of at least 25% of the crossed out wheeled bin symbol

Capacity labelling

You must label:

  • portable rechargeable batteries with their capacity in milliampere-hours (mAh) with a whole number or ampere-hours (Ah) with only one digit after the decimal point
  • automotive batteries with their capacity both in ampere-hours (Ah) and in cold cranking amperes (A), written as whole numbers

Make sure the minimum size and location of capacity labels on batteries is as shown in the following table:

Type of battery Location of marking Minimum size of label on battery or battery pack (height x length) Minimum size of label on packaging (height x length)
portable rechargeable (except button cells and memory back up batteries) on the front of the packaging and on the individual batteries. If sold without packaging, on the battery or accumulator 1.0 x 5.0 mm 5.0 x 12.0 mm
rechargeable battery packs where the largest side is equal to or above 70 cm squared on the external housing of the cell’s assembly (individual cells inside the housing do not require marking) 2.0 x 5.0 mm not applicable
rechargeable battery packs where the largest side is below 70 cm squared on the external housing of the cell’s assembly, individual cells inside the housing do not require marking 1.0 x 5.0 mm not applicable
button cells and memory back-up batteries on the front of packaging not applicable 5.0 x 12.0 mm
automotive batteries and accumulators on the largest side of the battery but not on the bottom side covering at least 3% of the area up to a maximum of 20 × 150 mm not applicable

If the size of the battery, accumulator or battery pack is too small to be suitably marked, the capacity must be marked on the packaging with a minimum size of 5.0 × 12.0 mm (height x length). If it is not supplied with its own packaging, the capacity must be marked on the packaging of the appliance it is sold with.

Making batteries readily removable

You must design appliances that incorporate batteries so that the person using the appliance can readily remove the battery. This means that they should be able to remove it safely and without difficulty, using the instructions provided where necessary. Where it is not possible for the battery to be readily removed by the person using the appliance, an independent qualified professional must be able to readily remove it. The instructions must explain the type of battery incorporated, where appropriate. This does not apply where a permanent connection between the appliance and the battery is needed for safety, performance, medical or data integrity.

Legislation

Batteries are regulated via a range of legislation, primarily the Batteries and Accumulators and Waste Batteries and Accumulators Directive amended by Directive 2013/56/EU and the Capacity Labelling of Portable Secondary (Rechargeable) and Automotive Batteries and Accumulators Regulations.

The Directive is part of UK law under the Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008 amended by the Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) (Amendment) Regulations 2015