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Environment - 16.12.2005
Batteries directive: CEMR welcomes extension of producer's responsibility but deplores low environmental ambition of EP
The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) welcomes the extension of producer responsibility -in the second reading vote of the European Parliament on 13 December. The requirement for producers to finance not only collection and recycling, but also public information campaigns comes from an amendment proposed by CEMR. Information to consumers is strengthened by the vote.
However, CEMR is disappointed that the Parliament settled for lower collection targets (of discarded batteries) than in its first reading. Only ambitious but realistic targets can make a difference and help increase collection and recycling capacities and markets.
Furthermore, CEMR is surprised that MEPs did not seek to strengthen the cadmium ban introduced by the Council. The Parliament contradicts its stance of the first reading, when it asked for a full cadmium ban, as advocated by CEMR.
The Council's proposal was positive since it increased the environmental ambition of the text compared to the Commission's original proposal. Nevertheless, this ban remains very narrow : as cordless power tools, medical equipment, emergency and alarm systems are exempted, this means that in practice more than 70% of the cadmium used in portable batteries will still be allowed on the market while environment-friendlier, efficient and competitive alternatives to cadmium are available.
On one hand, MEPs recall the EU general policy of limiting cadmium use, assert that the priority objective of the directive is the prevention of the use of heavy metals in batteries and accumulators, ask Members States to promote life cycle research in order to develop cleaner products... and on the other hand they do not strive to extend the cadmium ban introduced by the Ministers. The responsibility of the European Parliament is to orientate the market through legislation; however it looks as if it now let the market shape legislation.
EU institutions increasingly call for the development of the life-cycle approach in resource and waste management. CEMR believes banning hazardous substances is one of the key elements of life cycle policies that aim at increasing the environmental performance of products, particularly when alternatives to such substances are available.
CEMR calls on the Commission to make use of the provision introduced by the Council of Ministers to review the exemptions to the cadmium ban 'if appropriate with relevant proposals, with a view to the prohibition of cadmium in batteries and accumulators". A full cadmium ban would save on treatment costs, protect the environment, and push the European industry to develop innovative products, adapt to new demand, ensure that the internal market is a dynamic and competitive economy - thus contributing to the goals of the Lisbon Strategy.
CEMR's position paper on the batteries directive (First reading)
CEMR's position on the batteries directive (second reading)