Access key links:

This site uses cookies to help make it more useful and reliable. Our cookies page explains what they are, which ones we use, and how you can manage or remove them.


This page provides additional support on the interpretation of the Regulations. This advice aims to help provide practical solutions and is divided into a number of sections which reflect the regulations.

Please choose from one of the following sections.

Material prohibitions

Material prohibitions

The restriction on the use of certain substances and the marking of batteries with the relevant chemical symbol are covered by regulations four and six. The following table gives a useful overview of the application of these Regulations.

Mercury Cadmium Lead
Portable batteries 0.0005% by weight except for button cells which if marked Hg may contain up to 2% by weight. .002% except for portable batteries marked Cd intended solely for alarm systems, emergency lighting, medical equipment and power tools. No limit but must be marked Pb if the battery contains more than 0.004% lead.
Automotive batteries (regulation six of ELV ) No Limit within Batteries Regulations please see ELV Regulations or contact VCA No restriction within the Batteries Regulations on amount of cadmium but restrictions may apply under ELV. Batteries must be marked Cd if the battery contains more than 0.002% cadmium. No restriction on the amount of lead within the Batteries Regulations but restrictions may apply under ELV. Batteries must be marked Pb if the battery contains more than 0.004% lead.
Automotive batteries (Not subject to (Regulation six of ELV ) 0.0005% by weight No restriction on amount of cadmium but must be marked Cd if the battery contains more than 0.002% cadmium. No restriction on the amount of lead but must be marked Pb if the battery contains more than 0.004% lead.

Industrial Batteries

0.0005% by weight No limit but must be marked Cd if the battery contains cadmium. No limit but must be marked Pb if the battery contains more than 0.004% lead.


Back to top

Marking requirements  

Regulation five covers the required marking of batteries. It requires all batteries to be marked with the crossed out wheeled bin symbol.

The symbol shall be printed visibly, legibly, indelibly and:

  • In the case of non cylindrical cells, cover at least 3% of the surface area of the largest side
  • In the case of cylindrical cells, cover at least 1.5% of the total surface area

In all cases, there is no obligation to place a symbol on the battery greater than a size of 5cm x 5cm.

The main concern is to ensure the relevant information is available to the end user and recycler. Therefore the preferred solution is for the symbol to be on the battery where this is possible. However, the regulations recognize the need for an alternative where space may be limited. Therefore, if a battery is so small that the calculated size of the symbol would be less than 0.5 cm x 0.5 cm then the symbol can be placed on the packaging and must be at least 1 cm x 1cm.

Where a battery is provided within another piece of equipment (whether an appliance under the definition of the Regulations or another piece of equipment) then, where it is impractical to mark the battery, the symbol should be marked on the packaging of the product.

Regulation six requires where there is further chemical symbol marking identified in the table above then the chemical symbol shall:

  • Be printed on the battery visibly, legibly, indelibly
  • Be directly below the crossed out wheelie bin
  • Cover an area of at least 25% of the symbol it is associated with


Back to top

Removability requirements 

Regulation seven covers the appliance requirements of the Regulations. Appliances are effectively defined as all equipment that falls under the WEEE Regulations. The requirements under regulation seven are that:

  • The appliance is designed in such a way that a waste battery can be readily removed
  • The appliance is accompanied by instructions showing how the battery can be removed safely
  • Where appropriate, there is information to inform the end user of the type of battery incorporated

There are exemptions to the removability requirements under regulation seven for:

  • Safety
  • Performance
  • Medical
  • Data integrity

Where one of these exemptions is intended to be used it must be judged on a case by case basis. Their use should be applied only where there is a clear technical need and not as a market opportunity. When applying one of the exemptions, best practice would be to generate a clear justification as part of the product development.

There are a range of applications of batteries where it would be deemed for technical or safety reasons inappropriate for a battery to be replaced by an end user. Examples of this include:

  • The requirement to seal and/or pressurize some sports watches to ensure correct waterproof performance at depth
  • Some modern batteries are not fully encapsulated to allow for size and weight savings. Incorrect handling of these batteries may be hazardous
  • Some equipment may have tamper proof fastenings for security reasons
  • Some equipment may require significant construction to provide protection from shock or the environment etc.

However, in such cases it would be inappropriate for the life of a product to be limited to the life-cycle of the battery and it may be inappropriate to apply the performance exemption listed in regulation seven. The alternative is for the manufacturer or the supplier to make provisions to provide a readily accessible service to replace the batteries on behalf of the user. For the purposes of the Regulations, in the UK, readily accessible access to an effective professional replacement service is considered sufficient to meet the readily removable requirement of the Regulations.

Whether or not a service option is made available the requirement for instructions showing how the battery may be removed remains. Supporting the pragmatic approach above, it would be reasonable to provide general information on service replacement to the end user within the instructions as long as access to full removal instructions are available on request. This would allow the objective of suitable removal instructions being accessible to recyclers to be met.

Further guidance on removability can be found via NMO's battery removability policy (PDF, 768 Kb) .

Back to top

Portable batteries 

To be categorized as a portable battery a battery must meet all of the following critria.

A portable battery must be:

  • Sealed
  • Readily carried by an average natural person
  • Not be an automotive battery or an industrial battery

The ability to be carried by an average natural person is not defined. However, there are a number of guidelines that may be useful in assessing this criterion. The portability of a load depends mainly on weight, size, shape and balance of the load.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance that may be a useful start point. This guidance includes getting to grips with manual handling and manual handling assessment charts. The HSE documents suggest a safe working load of 6kg to 7kg for the purposes of safe lifting by adults.

However, the portable definition suggests a broader need focused on carrying rather than just lifting and access to a broader range of persons rather than just adults.

For the purposes of enforcement a battery that:

  • Is less than 4kg
  • Will fit within a 300mm cube
  • Has a shape and form that is not such to make handling awkward and that has no sharp edges

would be considered to meet the carrying requirement without further consideration. It may be that a battery does not to meet all the above and still can be considered portable. However, as any battery moves away from the above criteria the enforcement authority may require more detailed justification.

Button cells are a sub set of portable batteries. A button cell is defined as a round portable battery with a diameter greater than its height.

Back to top

Decision framework for hand carried batteries   

In determining the classification of a battery there are a number of criteria that have to be applied. One of those criteria relates to the batteries ability to be hand carried by an average natural person without difficulty. In providing advice to both enforcement officers and producers of batteries the following framework has been adopted to aid the interpretation of this criterion.

a) In the absence of any evidence to the contrary a battery or accumulator weighing less than 4kg will be presumed to be capable of being hand carried without difficulty by the average natural person.

b) In the absence of evidence to the contrary a battery or accumulator weighing over 10kg will be presumed not to be capable of being hand carried without difficulty by the average natural person.

c) For batteries and accumulators that fall between these two weights there is no presumption and a judgement will have to made based on all available information. That information may include but is not limited to the weight and shape of the battery, to any facility making hand carrying more likely such as handles or carrying straps for example.

It should be noted that if a battery is clearly designed exclusively for industrial or professional use, or if it is used for automotive starting, ignition or lighting power for a vehicle, then the issue of whether it can be hand-carried is not relevant in deciding its classification.

This framework has been established to assist in the implementation of the regulations which relate to batteries and accumulators. It is not a formal legal position and only the courts can interpret legislation with authority.

The weight values associated with the presumptions have been established by considering a range of practical examples currently available for sale in the UK, advice on safe lifting and carrying published by the HSE and with regard to the specific wording in the Directive and the implementing legislation.

The framework has been agreed by all those enforcement agencies that may be called upon to make a judgment about the ability of a battery to be hand carried by an average natural person without difficulty. The framework and the weight values associated with the presumptions will be reviewed in light of future experience and advice from producers and designers of batteries.

Industrial batteries   

An industrial Battery is a battery that meets any of the following criteria:

  • Be solely for professional use
  • Be unsealed and not an automotive battery
  • Be sealed and not a portable battery
  • Be intended for use as the propulsion of an electric vehicl

There is no option for an industrial battery to be a button cell. Therefore if a battery meeting the dimensional requirements for a button cell contains more than 0.0005% mercury then it cannot be lawfully placed on the market as an industrial battery.

Back to top

Automotive batteries 

Automotive batteries are defined as any battery used for an automotive starter, lighting or ignition power.

Automotive batteries are further sub divided by the regulations into those that are covered by section six of the End of Life Vehicles Regulations and those that are not.

Back to top

End of Life of Vehicles and Batteries and Accumulators (placing on the market) Regulations 

The following information is provided to aid decisions relating to the Batteries and ELV Regulations. For further support please contact the Vehicle Certification Agency.

As described under regulation 2 of ELV a "vehicle" means any vehicle designated as category M1 or N1 defined in Annex IIA to Council Directive 70/156/EEC relating to the type-approval of motor vehicles and their trailers[5], and three wheel motor vehicles as defined in Council Directive 92/61/EEC relating to the type-approval of two or three wheel motor vehicles[6], but excluding motor tricycles.

(For notes identified in above text please refer to the Regulations)

70/156/EEC states:

Category M:
Motor vehicles having at least four wheels, or having three wheels when the maximum weight exceeds 1 metric ton, and used for the carriage of passengers. Category M1: Vehicles used for the carriage of passengers and comprising no more than eight seats in addition to the driver's seat.
Category N:
Motor vehicles having at least four wheels, or having three wheels when the maximum weight exceeds 1 metric ton, and used for the carriage of goods. Category N1: Vehicles used for the carriage of goods and having a maximum weight not exceeding 3.75 metric tons.

Prohibition on heavy metals  

A producer shall ensure that materials and components of vehicles put on the market do not contain lead, mercury, cadmium or hexavalent chromium except in the cases listed in schedule 1 to these Regulations.

The table at Schedule 1 lists:

Materials and components

Scope and expiry date of the exemption

To be labelled or made identifiable in accordance with Article 4(2)(b)(iv) of the Directive

Lead and lead compounds in components

5. Batteries



21. Batteries for electrical vehicles

After 31 December 2005, the placing on the market of NiCd batteries shall only be allowed as replacement parts for vehicles put on the market before this date



Regulation 4 (4) of the Batteries Regulations states: "This regulation does not apply to a battery which is a component of a vehicle for the purposes of regulation 6 of the End-of-Life Vehicles Regulations 2003" (ELV).

The following ranges of vehicles are covered by ELV:

  • Vehicles with at least four wheels intended for the carriage of passengers and with no more than eight seats excluding the driver seat
  • Vehicles with at least four wheels intended for the carriage of goods but not weighing more than 3.75 Tonnes
  • Three wheeled vehicles but not motor tricycles

ELV does not cover:

  • Three wheeled vehicles with a maximum design speed not exceeding six kmh
  • Four wheeled vehicles with a design speed not exceeding 25 kmh
  • vehicles intended for pedestrian control
  • vehicles intended for use by the physically handicapped
  • vehicles intended for use in competitions, on roads or whatever the terrain
  • vehicles already in use before the application date of this Directive
  • tractors and machines, used for agricultural or similar purposes
  • vehicles designed primarily for off-road leisure use having wheels arranged symmetrically with one wheel at the front of the vehicle and two at the rear
  • HGVs
  • PSVs
  • Two wheeled vehicles
  • Motor tricycles

Back to top

  • Print this page

Email alerts

Email Subscribe to email alerts from NMO

Follow us on Twitter