April 2006

Battery industry continues mercury elimination efforts

Rosslyn, VA— The United States battery industry is announcing a commitment to eliminate added mercury from button cell batteries by June 2011.

The battery industry has a record of reducing the environmental impact of batteries. It voluntarily eliminated mercury, which had been used as an additive to reduce gassing and leakage, from standard size alkaline and carbon zinc batteries in the 1990s. At that time, the technology was not available to do the same for smaller button cell batteries, which are used in watches and hearing aids. The button cells are the only batteries that continue to contain small amounts of mercury.

The battery industry has been working diligently to eliminate mercury from all types of batteries. The industry has made substantial progress, achieving the following milestones:

• Manufacturers discontinued production of mercuric oxide batteries and replaced them with new and improved battery systems containing far less mercury.

• By the early part of this decade, the industry had lowered the amount of mercury in button cells to quantities well below historical levels and those sanctioned by federal laws. The 1996 Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act restrict the addition of mercury to a maximum of 25 mg per button cell. By 2002, the industry average was less than half of this value.


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