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    Brazil Adopts New Battery Rules

    By Keith R | September 12, 2008

    Topics: Electronic/Electrical Equipment, Environmental Protection, Hazardous Substances, Waste & Recycling | No Comments »

    1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

    Brazil’s National Environment Council (CONAMA) just replaced the country’s groundbreaking 1999 rules on the environmental management of batteries and piles (pilhas) with even tougher ones.

    Manufacturers should take note, since legislators and regulators in other Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) nations will.  The original rules served as a reference point for many LAC policymakers, particularly since it was one of the few such rules outside of the OECD nations or China and for many years the only ones in LAC (Argentina and Paraguay have since adopted legislation).  Any reforms that the Brazilians felt needed to be made will be studied by their neighbors.

    The 1999 CONAMA binding Resolution was also referenced directly by several state and municipal laws in Brazil.  These must now be amended, and opening them to amendment may just re-open debate at the state and local level about what to do about end-of-life batteries and piles.  Furthermore, some states delayed adopting the implementing regulations for their own battery laws and state waste policy laws in part to see what CONAMA would do on this issue (CONAMA has been debating the changes since 2003).  These states may proceed to issue their implementing decrees now that CONAMA has acted.

    What Kinds of Batteries/Piles Does It Cover?

    The short answer is basically all of them, in one way or another.

    Article 1 of the Resolution says that it covers “all portable batteries and piles sold on national territory” with regards to limits on lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd) and mercury (Hg), and as well for “the adequate environmental management of lead-acid, car and industrial batteries, and batteries and piles of nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) and mercury oxide (HgO) electro-chemical systems” related to Chapters 85.06 and 85.07 of the Common Nomenclature of MERCOSUR (Nomenclatura Común del MercosurNCM).

    The definitions in Article 2 make it clear that this includes button batteries, button battery stacks and miniature piles (defined as any pile with a diameter or height smaller than an AAA – LR03/R03), as defined by existing technical norms [I presume this means Brazilian Standards Association (ABNT) norms].

    Article 5 of the Resolution says that all batteries/piles not covered by the Resolution’s specific provisions have to have selective collection programs for them all in a form shared by manufacturers, importers, distributors, vendors and public authorities.

    Article 20 says that where the battery or pile is not removable, a product containing them has to follow the Resolution’s rules on collection and “environmentally adequate destination” (see below for how this is defined).

    Registration Required

    Manufacturers and importers of all products covered by Article 1 have to register in the Federal Technical Registry of Potentially Polluting Activities (CTF).  [Note: This has been a requirement anyway since 2002.]

    Testing Required

    Heavy Metal Limits Changed

    The Resolution replaces the limits in Resolution 257 in the following manner:

    zinc-manganese and alkaline batteries and piles

    lead-acid batteries:

    If the aforementioned tests prove that a battery or pile has levels above these limits, the manufacturer or importer would be subject to “penalties foreseen in legislation.”   [I interpret this to refer to the Environmental Crimes Law, whose penalties were just stiffened by President Lula in a new implementing decree issued in July.]

    Also, Article 17 says that if IBAMA finds that extra samples it demanded do not meet heavy metal limits, all batteries/piles in that lot must be retrieved from the market by the manufacturer or importer.

    Waste Management Plans Required

    Under Article 3, all national manufacturers and importers of batteries/piles covered by Article 1 must present IBAMA with a waste management plan.  For importers submission of this plan will be a prerequisite for receiving an import license.

    What constitutes an adequate waste management plan?  Article 2 defines such a plan as an “environmentally adequate set of procedures for the discard, segregation, collection, transport, receipt, storage, handling, recycling, reuse, treatment or final disposal.”   Article 3 says that the plan should consider how batteries/piles that are received or collected can be adequately handled and stored in a segregated fashion, until the “environmentally adequate destination” (see below for how this defined), “obeying pertinent environmental and public health norms.”

    Take-Back for Certain Batteries

    Under Article 4, establishments that sell batteries/piles covered by Article 1, as well as the technical assistance networks authorized by manufacturers and importers, have to received from “users” used and “unserviceable” batteries and piles, including those of other brands, for passing on to manufacturers or importers.

    Selective Collection Required for Others

    Under Article 5, batteries and piles not covered by Article 1 are to be the subject of a selective collection program implemented jointly by manufacturers, importers, distributors, vendors and public authorities.

    “Environmentally Adequate Destination”

    Throughout the Resolution — particularly in discussions of the waste plans and of producer responsibility — it refers to giving batteries and piles an “environmentally adequate destination.”  Articles 7 and 8 make the “environmentally adequate destination” of zinc-manganese and alkaline and lead-acid batteries and piles the responsibility of the respective manufacturer or importer, and the Resolution extends this responsibility to manufacturers and importers of products that contain such batteries in a non-removable fashion.

    But what exactly does “environmentally adequate destination” mean?

    It is defined in Article 2 as “one that minimizes risk to the environment and adopts technical procedures for the collection, receipt, reuse, recycling, treatment or final disposal in accord with existing environmental law.”  Note that the definition does not allow for incineration or “thermal destruction.”

    Labeling and Advertising

    Under Article 18, the packaging and publicity materials of lead-acid and Ni-Cd batteries/piles manufactured in Brazil or imported must carry, in clear and visible fashion, certain symbols found in Annex I to the Resolution.  They all must bear one of the three versions of the crossed-out wheely trash bin (see at right), indicating that these batteries and piles should not be thrown into ordinary trash.

    If the batteries are covered by a recycling program, they should bear one of the three chasing arrow symbols

    Under Article 22, lead-acid, Ni-Cd and HgO batteries must have on the body of the battery:

    Noncompliance with the labeling provisions by importers will stop shipments while still in customs.

    Material Substitution Studies

    Under Article 19, manufacturers and importers of batteries and piles covered by the Resolution must conduct studies on substituting or further reducing “potentially hazardous toxic substances” contained in their batteries/piles.

    Environmental Education Campaigns

    The manufacturers, importers, distributors and vendors of lead-acid, mercury oxide, zinc-manganese and alkaline batteries and piles are “to be given incentive”, in cooperation and public authorities and “civil society” (a phrase meaning nongovernmental organizations – NGOs) to promote environmental education campaigns about post-consumer responsibility.

    Discretionary Powers of Environmental Authorities

    Under Article 21, IBAMA “or the competent environmental organ” (which leaves open for state environment agencies to act) would be able to adopt “complementary procedures” for the control, enforcement, physical-chemical testing and analysis “necessary for the verification of compliance” with the resolution.

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