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ECITA ISE: ER Chapter 8 The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations (2009) (WBR) and the WEEE Directive (2002)

11 : Section 2 Environmental Responsibility (ER) Chapter 8 The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations (2009) (WBR) and the WEEE Directive (2002)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Introduction

This chapter, together with CHAPTER 7, considers the implications of the various regulations which apply to vendors of batteries and electronic/electrical equipment. The intent of these regulations is to reduce the use of harmful metals in batteries, and to increase the recycling of waste batteries and electronic/electrical equipment.

The regulations which apply are as follows:

•    The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations (2009) (WBR)
•    The Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations (2006) (WEEE)

The Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations (WBR)

Small producers (up to 32kg of batteries in a year) are required to register with the Environment Agency. If you are producing/importing more than 32kg of batteries a year, you are also required to provide a free means for people to recycle batteries (there are a number of compliance schemes and companies that provide recycling solutions(1)). (NB: This only applies to separate batteries, and not to batteries supplied as part of a device, since these are covered by WEEE.) The requirement is to accept batteries at the place of supply, so “free” would not include covering customers’ postage costs.

Please note that if you have affiliates and/or distributors who sell more than 32kg of batteries, they also have a requirement to offer a recycling service.

What the law requires

“(1) A distributor of portable batteries must, at any place it supplies such batteries to end-users,—

(a)     take back waste portable batteries at no charge; and
(b)     inform end-users about the possibility of such take back at the distributor’s sales points.
 
(2) A distributor may not—
 
(a)  make any charge to end-users; or
(b)  oblige end-users to buy a new battery, when accepting waste portable batteries under paragraph (1)(a).

(3) The duty in paragraph (1) does not apply where portable batteries are supplied by a small distributor.

(4) A distributor must not dispose of, or arrange for the disposal of, waste portable batteries accepted under paragraph (1)(a). [They must not be ‘disposed’ of because they must be ‘recycled’.]

(5) In this regulation “small distributor” means a distributor who supplies less than 32 kg of portable batteries to end-users in a year.”

Documentary evidence of the batteries’ compliance with these regulations must be available within 14 days of request by regulators.

“Marking with crossed out wheeled bin symbol

5.—(1) No person shall place on the market any battery or battery pack unless it is marked with the symbol shown in Schedule 1 (the “crossed out wheeled bin symbol”).

(2) Subject to paragraph (3) [above], the crossed out wheeled bin symbol shall cover at least 3% of the area of the largest side of the battery or battery pack and shall have a maximum size of 5 x 5 centimetres.

(3) In the case of cylindrical cells, the crossed out wheeled bin symbol shall cover at least 1.5% of the surface area of the battery and shall have a maximum size of 5 x 5 centimetres.

(4) Where the size of the battery or battery pack is such that the crossed out wheeled bin symbol would be smaller than 0.5 x 0.5 centimetres, the battery or battery pack need not be marked but a crossed out wheeled bin symbol measuring at least 1 x 1 centimetre shall be printed on the packaging.

(5) The crossed out wheeled bin symbol shall be printed visibly, legibly and indelibly.”

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE)

WEEE applies to everyone selling electronic cigarettes, since they require electricity for their primary function. Batteries (electronic cigarette batteries are functionally battery packs) are covered by specific batteries regulations, as discussed here and in CHAPTER 7.

Although there are certain specific exemptions from the WEEE regulations, torches are covered under WEEE category 2: small household appliances. The mechanism of operation for an electronic cigarette has the same functional components as a torch, in that it has a battery, a switch, and a coil to which power is supplied. Therefore, electronic cigarettes will also fall under category 2.

What the law requires

If you manufacture, rebrand or import electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), you are a producer of EEE and you must:

•    join an approved producer compliance scheme every year (http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/business/approved_...);
•    pay for the collection, treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of your market share of household waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE);
•    (costs for such schemes are usually calculated based on the weight of electrical equipment sold, so for ecig vendors, should not be too extreme);
•    label every electrical product with the WEEE symbol:

The combined symbol (including bar) should be a minimum of 7mm high by 5mm wide (a=3.33mm), this makes the crossed bin symbol 5mm high. The height of the black bar (h) should be the greater of 0.3a or 1mm. If the WEEE includes batteries, the symbol must be 14mm by 10mm to comply with the provisions of both WEEE and batteries marking requirements (alternatively a combination of a 7mm by 5mm WEEE symbol and a 10mm by 10mm crossed wheelie bin symbol (with no bar) could be used). (A checklist of Battery Marking Requirements is provided to ECITA members.)

•    In the first instance, the WEEE symbol should be marked directly on the product. If this is not feasible, then it must be in the operating instructions (if supplied), or as a last resort, on the packaging/label;
•    each electrical product must be marked with a producer identification mark, i.e. your brand name, logo, trademark, web address, company registration number, or other distinguishing mark;
•    declare the amount in tonnes, units and by category (category 2) placed onto the UK market between 1st January and 31st December in each year of trade. (Since batteries are covered by separate regulations, their weight should not be declared as WEEE. This would simply be for atomisers and cartomisers.);
•    make your unique producer number (supplied by your WEEE compliance scheme) available to customers to whom EEE is supplied. (This could be via the operating instructions, the packaging or your website, for example);
•    through your compliance scheme, you have to provide information on how best to recycle the products you supply. This should also cover the requirement for you to demonstrate that you have complied with your producer obligations in any EU Member State (excluding the UK), if you are selling products into Europe via the internet; and
•    you are required to maintain records of the above for 4 years.

 

Footnotes

1 e.g. http://www.batteryback.org/