Mercury banned in batteries from 2000

A technical adaptation to the 1991 EC Directive on batteries will limit mercury levels in alkaline manganese and zinc carbon batteries to 5ppm from 1 January 2000. This will effectively act as a ban, since the limit is similar to the background levels found in other battery components. Button cells, which are used in cameras and hearing aids, are exempt provided their mercury content does not exceed 2% by weight.

The measure will not affect EC producers, who phased out the use of mercury by 1993, but will affect imported products comprising about 2% of EC battery sales. The legislation is supported by the European battery industry, which says that collection of batteries from households could be cost-effective once mercury is removed from the waste stream.

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