The Decree, signed on 12 May, goes beyond the requirements of European legislation, says the French Environment Ministry. The new scheme requires distributors to provide free take-back facilities for batteries brought in by consumers, free of charge and without restrictions. It was drawn up in consultation with all the stakeholders, from environment groups to manufacturers and recyclers.

The manufacturer or importer will pay the costs of the scheme, and pass them on to consumers. “This approach implies the transfer of waste disposal costs currently supported by the tax payer over to the consumer, in line with the polluter pays principle,” says Environment Minister, Dominique Voynet.

In order to increase clarity and awareness throughout the supply chain, the new legislation requires that disposal costs be clearly indicated in pricing, from the manufacturer through to the consumer.

The sale of batteries containing mercury will, in any case be banned outright throughout the EU as from 1 January 2000, under an EU Directive of December 1998.

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