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EU Warns Nations To Impose Battery Recycling Rules

European Union threatened legal action against member nations who fail to impose rules for collecting and recycling batteries which are due to come into force Friday.

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- European Union headquarters threatened legal action against member nations who fail to impose rules for collecting and recycling batteries which are due to come into force Friday.

The rules impose targets for collecting defunct batteries to limit pollution caused when they are incinerated or buried in leaky landfill sites, but only seven of the 27 EU countries have written them into national legislation.

In a statement, the European Commission said it would take legal action any nation that did not "remedy the situation rapidly."

So far only Estonia, Spain, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria and Slovenia, have implemented the new rules, said EU spokeswoman Barbara Helfferich. Ireland, Lithuania, Poland and Finland say they are close to doing so.

The new rules impose targets for collecting defunct batteries ranging from regular AA batteries to those used in mobile phones and laptops. By 2012, a quarter of all batteries sold must be collected once they run out and recycled. By 2016, the target will rise to 45 percent.

Distributors will be required to take used batteries and accumulators back at no charge. The rules also determine how batteries must be recycled once collected. Use of mercury and cadmium in batteries is restricted under the rules and dumping car and industrial batteries in landfill sites is banned.

EU Environment Commission Stavros Dimas said the law was an "important step towards our goal of making Europe into a recycling society." He said governments should write into law "without delay."

The EU's high court can impose hefty daily fines on nations that fail to implement European laws.

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