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What are batteries and accumulators?

The Batteries and Accumulators Regulations is a producer responsibility directive and all producers and distributors of batteries that are affected must comply. It applies to all types of batteries irrespective of their shape, weight and composition except those used in equipment connected with a Member State’s essential security interests, for certain military purposes, or designed to be sent into space.

A battery or accumulator is considered to be any source of electrical energy generated by direct conversion of chemical energy and consisting of either:

-    one or more primary battery cells (non-rechargeable or disposable batteries); or
-    one or more secondary battery cells (accumulators or rechargeable batteries).

Batteries are classified as industrial, automotive or portable batteries. The three different types of batteries are defined in the following way:

An industrial battery means a battery or battery pack of any size or weight which is:

-    designed exclusively for industrial or professional uses;
-    used as a source of power for propulsion in an electric vehicle or a hybrid vehicle (i.e. a vehicle with both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine);
-    unsealed but is not an automotive battery or accumulator; or
-    sealed but is not classified as a portable battery.

Examples of an industrial battery are:

-    batteries used in offshore oil rigs and lighthouses.
-    batteries designed exclusively for handheld terminals used in shops and restaurants and barcode readers in shops.
-    batteries used in professional video equipment and professional studios.
-    the battery used as a source of propulsion in a golf cart or buggy.
-    the battery found in a motor boat or motor yacht used for starting petrol or diesel fuelled engines or as a source or power for an electric engine.
-    the battery used as a source of power and propulsion to drive the motor in an electric forklift.

An automotive battery means a battery of any size or weight that is used for the starting or ignition of the engine of a road going vehicle or for providing power for any lighting used by such a vehicle. This includes such batteries used in vehicles that are of a road-going nature but not actually used on public roads, such as a racing car or tractor.

Examples of an automotive battery include:

-    a motorcycle battery – the battery used for starting, lighting or ignition.
-    a car/van battery – the battery used for starting, lighting or ignition (the traditional 12-volt “car battery”).
-    a truck, bus or coach battery – the battery used for starting, lighting or ignition in such vehicles.

A portable battery means any battery or battery pack which is:

•    sealed;
•    can be hand-carried by an individual person without difficulty; and
•    is neither an automotive battery or accumulator nor an industrial battery.

Examples of a portable battery include:

-    the AA or AAA batteries used to power a portable CD player or minidisk player, or the AA or AAA batteries used to power a remote control that may accompany appliances such as televisions and DVD players.
-    the battery used to power a portable MP3 player.
-    the battery used to power a laptop or mobile phone.
-    the button cell fixed to the motherboard of a personal computer or laptop, or used to power a wristwatch.

Many batteries used in electrical and electronic equipment could at first glance seem to fit the requirements of both portable and industrial batteries. The presumption is that if a battery is sealed, can be hand-carried and is capable of being used in a consumer household product, it should be considered to be a portable battery.