Products & environment
Panasonic commenced a programme to remove mercury from alkaline manganese batteries in 1985, as agreed within the European Portable Battery Industry (EPBA).
At that time 1% by weight of mercury was added to these batteries and it was decided that mercury would be reduced in a series of steps to the level where no additions of mercury were made. At that time zinc carbon batteries also contained mercury but at a lower concentration of 0.1% and its removal too was incorporated within the programme. All general purpose batteries sold by EPBA members were mercury free from 1 January 1994. This initiative was undertaken as an entirely voluntary measure by producers and at an investment of more than €100 million.
In addition, during the 1980s the mercuric oxide battery was the dominant battery chemistry used in photographic applications and in hearing aids. This battery contained more than 30% mercury and this could not be removed because mercury was a key ingredient that allowed the battery to work, its removal would mean that the battery would no longer function.
The battery industry set about developing alternative battery chemistries to replace the mercuric oxide battery which would incorporate cleaner technology. As a result the lithium manganese dioxide and zinc air batteries were introduced onto the consumer market. It took a little more time for camera and hearing aid designers to make their products so as to operate with the new batteries. Thus started a process of substituting the high mercury containing battery with low (2%) mercury containing zinc air button cells and zero mercury containing lithium manganese dioxide batteries.
The Reduction on Hazardous Substances Directive 2002/95/EC was adopted in 2003 by the European Union and restricts the use of six hazardous materials in electronic and electrical equipment.
The ROHS Directive does not apply to batteries.
All of Panasonic’s other products (torches, chargers) comply with the ROHS Directive.
In 1996, the European Union adopted Directive 2006/66, with a view to collecting and recycling all types of batteries put on the European market. The Directive also deals with certain product requirements such as substance restrictions, crossed-out dustbin marking etc. All of Panasonic’s batteries comply with the product requirements in the Battery Directive.
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive 2002/96/EC was adopted in 2003 by the European Union, and sets collection, recycling and recovery targets for electronic and electrical equipment.
Batteries are not considered as electronic and electrical equipment. All of Panasonic’s other products (torches, chargers) comply with the product requirements in the WEEE Directive.
The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation N°1907/2006 is a European Union Regulation issued in 2006. The REACH Regulation addresses the production and use of chemical substances, and their potential impacts on both human health and the environment. Batteries under REACH are considered as “articles”. All of Panasonic’s batteries and other products comply with the REACH legislation, in particular with the list of “Substances of Very High Concern” (SVHC), which is reviewed from time to time.
A material safety data sheet (MSDS) is a form with data regarding the properties of a particular substance. Directive 2001/58/EC relating to dangerous substances implements this requirement in Europe. Since batteries (and Panasonic’s other products) are not considered as “substances”, they do not fall under the MSDS legislation. Nevertheless, Panasonic provides Product Safety Data Sheets, in a format similar to MSDS, for its batteries as a service to its customers.