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During the year 2000, the total worldwide battery market value reached approximately 30-35 billion euro/.Four major market segments can be distinguished for the batteries: primary, starting lighting and ignition (SLI), industrial rechargeable and portable rechargeable.

The primary battery sales account for one third of this market segment where the main technology is represented by alkaline batteries. This market is increasing on a 5% per year basis with no major change or technology rupture foreseen (Pilot - 2001).

The second largest market segment is represented by industrial batteries where the lead-acid battery used for stand-by in telecommunication or industry, railways, aviation is dominating. Nickel-cadmium batteries are expected to gain market shares thanks to their greater reliability and safety but also because of their uses in advanced applications with higher added value.

The third market fraction is the traditional SLI battery application field which is under development due to an increasing demand for electrical and electronic applications in cars, like air conditioning systems and alterno-starters. To compensate the related demand for DC power, major car manufacturers have decided to increase the voltage of the battery unit from 12 volts to 42 volts.

The last market fraction is represented by portable rechargeable batteries (PRB). 1.1. Portable Rechargeable Batteries

The portable rechargeable battery market account for 20% of total batteries sales. It is a market driven by the most advanced electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) in the fields of computing, communication, household equipment and all the portable electrical devices like cordless power tools, tooth brushes, dust busters, CD and MD players and the future generations of portable electronic equipment. This market segment was multiplied by a factor greater than 3 in the last ten years and is foreseen to maintain a significant growth in the near future.

It is worth mentioning that nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries have been the first type of portable rechargeable battery to take advantage of this market evolution. If a cumulative value is considered for the sales of Ni-Cd batteries from 1980, one reaches a total value of more than 150,000 tonnes of portable Ni-Cd batteries introduced in Europe between 1980 and 2000 (CollectNiCad - 2000).

Until 1995, the largest fraction of Ni-Cd batteries introduced into the market was in household and electronic equipment. The emergency lighting units market has been in constant but moderate growth during the 1990's. From 1995, the cordless power tools application has taken a dominant position for these batteries (see also Figure 4) both in consumer and professional applications. A ten to twenty percent annual market increase has been observed during the last three years (Black&Decker 2001).

Finally, the market share of Ni-Cd batteries in the electronic appliances has been replaced by Ni-MH and Li-Ion technologies as a consequence of a market driven evolution.

One of the main features of this market is that the largest fraction (95%) of portable rechargeable batteries is sold incorporated in electrical and electronic equipment. Only a minor fraction (<5%) is sold individually as substitutes for primary batteries and/or as replacement batteries.

1.2. The Presence of Portable Rechargeable Batteries in the Environment

A very limited number of studies have been devoted to the analysis of the presence of batteries in municipal solid waste (MSW). The specific presence of Ni-Cd portable batteries has received some recent attention due to the increasing use of cadmium in batteries. In this context, Chandler's study is usually taken as a reference even if it was performed on a limited amount (2.5 tonnes) of materials (Chandler-1995).

Several authors of scientific publications related to the composition of municipal solid waste have concluded, in a simplified intellectual approach, that, because Ni-Cd batteries represent the major application for primary and secondary cadmium metal, the major source of cadmium in MSW streams is just Ni-Cd batteries.

This statement is based on the implicit assumptions that:

- there is a direct proportional correlation between the use of cadmium in Ni-Cd batteries and the concentration of cadmium in MSW.

- there is no other source of cadmium in MSW streams than applications where cadmium metal is used.

In order to present an alternative opinion to the erroneous assumption of these authors, this issue will be analyzed in this chapter on the basis of published data and field measurements.

If portable rechargeable batteries that have been sold with EEE for the last ten to fifteen years are not introduced in MSW streams, their presence in other streams needs to be identified and evaluated quantitatively. The work carried out by two national collection programs for spent batteries and by CollectNiCad is presented in this chapter. (CollectNiCad is an industry initiated and financed program with a commitment to collect 5,000 tonnes of Ni-Cd batteries in 4 years [1999-2003]). It demonstrates the willingness of the portable rechargeable battery industry to clearly identify the presence of its products in the various market positions and waste streams (Figure 1). A consumer survey made on the hoarding effect in France and the evaluation of quantities of batteries in MSW in France and the Netherlands will be illustrated.

Consolidated data on collection of portable rechargeable batteries will be supplied. The description of this issue via the Ni-Cd portable battery case will illustrate the effort and initiative taken by the industry to clarify this problem.

Complementary information on the practice of landfill of spent batteries and the management of industrial waste streams will be supplied.

Finally, the synergistic effect of the collection of batteries from the de-manufacturing of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) will be addressed.

In order to give a broader perspective to this Section, reference is made to the recently published Euphemet study (Scoullos-2000) on Policy of Heavy Metals (Hg, Cd, Pb) in the European Community. From several scenarios considered by the authors of the report, one can extract two broad conclusions on the future of the rapidly changing world of portable rechargeable batteries in general and of nickel-cadmium batteries in particular:

1. The Ni-Cd battery technology is hundred years old, but it has been through a significant market development only during the last twenty years. It can be considered, at the human scale, as a young technology we are learning to live with. In the last five years, a decline of the use of Ni-Cd batteries has occurred in low drain applications, while there was a large market development in high drain and safety applications. Consequently, when considering both the past and the medium term future of this technology, it cannot be classified as declining.

2. The authors of the Euphemet study support the concept that a controlled market introduction, where the close loop is secured by market actors, is one of the preferred options for the long term management of cadmium and its use in applications like batteries. In other words, marketing, collection and recycling of portable rechargeable batteries is a viable option to cadmium management in a sustainable economy when industry's strategy integrates environmental protection.

Collected with

Collected Separately NCRA & Private

Collected Separately NCRA & Private

* Collected with Industrial Waste

Municipal Solid Waste

* Collected with Industrial Waste


Figure 1. The Presence of Portable Rechargeable Batteries in the Environment


During the nineties, the portable rechargeable battery industry has invested up to 5% of its turnover into the development of alternative sources of portable electrical energy. Figure 2 represents the market evolution of portable rechargeable batteries during the last ten years. In 1999, the total number of cells introduced into the market exceeded 3.0 billion cells. The data presented in Figure 2 demonstrate that the rechargeable battery industry has been committed to a technological development by which the offer to the end-user has been enlarged from two basic systems in 1990 (lead-acid and nickel-cadmium) to five systems in the year 2000 (with the addition of nickel-metal hydride [Ni-MH], lithium-ion [Li-Ion] and lithium-polymer).

The evolution of the market according to the number of cells on a world wide basis is presented in Table 1 which has been compiled by Nomura Institute in Japan. For the year 2000, it has been estimated that Ni-Cd batteries have had a slight decrease in sales based on cells numbers. For Ni-MH batteries, there is an increase of more than 10% of the sales in the EU market. A higher market increase is observed for lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries.

It is particularly difficult to evaluate the number of portable rechargeable batteries (cells) delivered in Europe due to the fact that rechargeable batteries are sold, by more than 95%, incorporated in electrical and electronic equipment. Consequently, many factors are influencing the reliability of data obtained from battery manufacturers. Indeed, the european rechargeable battery industry has no control of the transboundary movements of finished products with incorporated batteries.

Early in 2000, CollectNiCad has issued the first data related to the number of Ni-Cd cells introduced into the european market according to market segments by applications (CollectNiCad 2000). The data compiled by CollectNiCad are presented in Figure 3. It has been calculated that approximately 340 million cells are sold effectively in Europe for an equivalent weight of 13,000 Tonnes. These cells are sold mainly assembled in power packs varying from 20 to 500 grams or more.

An estimation of the european market for other types of cells has been made and is presented in Table 2. It is estimated that the number of Ni-MH and Li-Ion cells as well as portable lead-acid cells sold in Europe represent 25% of the world market. When the market data are considered on a weight basis, one has to differentiate the ceil weight according to the chemistry. Such a differential approach is also supplied in Table 2. The quantity of portable rechargeable batteries sold in Europe would be close to 35,000 tonnes or twenty percent of the total portable batteries market (primary and rechargeable).

Collects Cad

European Portable Rechargeable Battoy Market Evolution

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