Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Identifying different battery types

Identifying different battery types

Battery regulations apply to both single-use batteries (also known as primary batteries) and rechargeable batteries (known as secondary batteries or accumulators). A battery is defined as any source of electrical energy generated by direct conversion of chemical energy and consisting of one or more battery cells. However, batteries used for specific military purposes or in equipment designed to be sent into space are outside the scope of the regulations.

Batteries are divided into three categories:

  • portable
  • industrial
  • automotive.

Your business must comply with different requirements depending on the type of batteries it places on the market.

Portable batteries

Portable batteries are batteries or battery packs that are:

  • sealed
  • hand carried without difficulty (weigh 4kg or less)
  • neither an industrial or automotive battery.

Examples of portable batteries include:

  • AA or AAA batteries that might be used to power the remote control for a television
  • batteries used in mobile phones, portable MP3 players or laptop computers
  • button cells found on a PC motherboard or in a wristwatch.

For information on responsibilities for producers of portable batteries, see the page in this guide on Portable battery producer responsibilities.

For information on responsibilities for distributors of portable batteries, see the page in this guide on Portable battery distributor and retailer responsibilities

Industrial and automotive batteries

Industrial batteries are batteries or battery packs of any size that are:

  • designed exclusively for professional or industrial uses
  • used as a source of power for propulsion in electric vehicles
  • unsealed but are not automotive batteries
  • sealed but are not portable batteries.

Examples of industrial batteries include those designed for use:

  • in barcode readers and payment card readers in shops
  • in professional video equipment and professional studios
  • as a source of power and propulsion to drive the motor in forklift trucks, golf buggies and mobility buggies
  • in lighthouses.

Automotive batteries are used in vehicles such as cars, vans, lorries, buses and other types of road transport for starting the engine, and lighting.

The majority of automotive batteries are traditional 12-Volt lead-acid batteries that have been used in cars, vans or trucks for many decades. They do not include batteries used in car key fobs or power propulsion for electric vehicles. A hybrid vehicle, for example, is likely to have two batteries - an automotive battery for ignition and an industrial battery for propulsion.

For information on obligations that apply to producers of industrial and automotive batteries, see the page in this guide on Industrial and automotive battery producer responsibilities

In this Guideline

Businesses affected by the batteries regulations

Identifying different battery types

Substance restrictions and battery labelling

Industrial and automotive battery producers responsibilites

Portable battery producers responsibilities

Portable batteries: distributor and retailer responsibilities

How end users can recycle batteries

Treating or recycling waste batteries

Exporting waste batteries

Battery compliance scheme operators responsibilities

Batteries: Environmental legislation

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