With regard to the Battery Directive, my goal is to achieve environmental protection with a reasonable and sensible approach. During the vote in the Environmental Committee, I was able to set the right course for the future, and with my convincing arguments in the plenum, I was able to prevent nickel-cadmium batteries from also being prohibited in applications in which there is not yet an acceptable and effective alternative.
I am very satisfied with the results in the plenum. My efforts have paid off to make sure that heavy metals are prohibited in batteries only in areas in which it would protect the environment and in which there are technical alternatives available. The reporter of the Independent Coalition Party recommended that cadmium also be prohibited in batteries used in cordless power tools and medical devices. However, there are no equally effective alternatives for the batteries in these applications. Together with colleagues in the CDU/CSU group in the European Parliament, I was able to prevent this ban and to achieve that a scientific assessment of the exceptions to the ban first be conducted as suggested in the Joint Position. This ensures that batteries are not banned until an alternative is technically feasible. It is important to prevent nickel-cadmium batteries from being banned in certain devices crucial to our society at the result of a faulty interpretation of environmental protection if no equally effective alternatives are available. This would mean the use of these devices would be greatly limited.
The battery industry is constantly working towards developing new technologies to better meet consumer needs. Environmental compatibility plays a key role in consumer purchasing. Thus, battery manufacturers are now investing in the development of alternative battery types in order to safeguard their market position. A ban on nickel-cadmium batteries would be counterproductive to this process. Companies would have to spend a great deal of money to adjust their production to accommodate the not yet perfected alternatives. This would mean the money required for further developing these alternatives would not be available.
Many Bavarian companies I am in contact with, such as SANYO Europe Headquarters and BMW in Munich, are against legal bans on certain metals in batteries due to the abovementioned reasons. Bavarian jobs that are at stake due to this matter are of highest priority to me.
In November 2003, the Commission submitted a recommendation for a new Battery Directive, which specified that all batteries brought into circulation in the EU be collected and recycled. The aim of this directive is to ensure that spent batteries do not end up in incineration plants or at waste disposal sites, but rather that the various metals used in batteries are recycled. This would be a very sensible contribution to environmental protection.
During the first reading of the recommended directive on April 20, 2004, the European Parliament intensified the Commission’s recommendation and supported a ban on nickel-cadmium batteries, but at the same time, approved a list of exemption (e.g. batteries in trains and airplanes and for emergency lighting).
In its Joint Position, the Council agreed with a ban on cadmium in equipment batteries (for cell phones, toys, camcorders, etc.), but allowed for exceptions to the ban for industrial batteries and for batteries in emergency systems, medical devices and cordless power tools. The Commission is to reassess the exception of power tools in four years. The ban on cadmium does not apply to vehicle batteries.
For your information:
Joint Position of the Council