Batteries: REcharging consumer safety

From hand-held vacuum cleaners to toothbrushes, batteries play a fundamental role in the day-to-day operation of many of our home appliances. In order to ensure consumer safety, not all batteries in all appliances are readily removable from end users. 

From hand-held vacuum cleaners to toothbrushes, batteries play a fundamental role in the day-to-day operation of many of our home appliances. In order to ensure consumer safety, not all batteries in all appliances are readily removable from end users. 

This is especially the case for appliances used in proximity to water, like electric epilators or toothbrushes. If non-qualified operators improperly replace batteries in appliances, safety risks could arise compromising the safety of the home and the people who live in it.  

Replacing a battery is often part of repairing a device and prevents discarding a product before it reaches the end of its useful life. While batteries in some applications may be suited for removal by the end-user, not all batteries in applications should necessarily be readily removable. “There is no one size fits all solution,” explained Paolo Falcioni, APPLiA Director General.  Home appliances that are used in constant proximity to water, are designed to avoid any possible seepage on batteries, in line with the strict requirements set by EU legislation. If we take the example of an electric toothbrush, the battery is contained within the electronics of the handle and the unit is then sealed to keep it watertight. Water infiltration can in fact corrode or damage internal battery safety devices and cause the battery to overheat, ignite, rupture or leak, exposing householders to safety risks including fire, infections from bio-hazardous residues and breach of EU safety standards. To continue the good progress made by the Trilogue discussions on the Batteries Regulation, allowing for the removability and replaceability of portable batteries for appliances used in a wet environment, is of critical importance.

The EU Batteries Directive to a Regulation provides a clear roadmap for the home appliance sector to drive towards increased battery sustainability, setting the scene for an updated policy framework, centred around the essential role batteries have in reaching a zero-emissions EU by 2050. The revision of the current EU legislation for batteries allows for an up to date, concise harmonisation of the common rules across all Member States, toward preserving the EU Single Market. The safe removability and replaceability of batteries in home appliances are key to enhancing the durability of products and subsequently the potential for proper recycling of batteries. “Legislation must reflect this,” continued Falcioni. Legislation steered toward the proper repair of appliances would have a key role in truly prioritising user safety and ensuring the sustainability of the industry moving forward. 

Watch our short explanatory video.