Approximately 800,000 tonnes of automotive batteries, 190,000 tonnes of industrial batteries and 160,000 tonnes of portable (consumer) batteries are placed on the EU market annually. Mercury, lead and cadmium are by far the most problematic substances in the battery waste stream and mercury, lead and cadmium batteries are classified as hazardous waste.
As existing EU legislation only applies to batteries containing certain quantities of cadmium, mercury or lead it covers only 7% of the all portable batteries placed on the EU market annually. In 2002, approximately 45% of the total quantity of portable batteries sold in the EU-15 (i.e. 72.155 tonnes) went to landfill or incineration.