The Pursuit of Profits Over Moral and Social Responsibilities
The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS)2006/66/EC restricts the use of cadmium in the manufacture of batteries. Cadmium, a highly toxic substance, can be found in NiCAD or Ni-Cd batteries. If nickel-cadmium batteries find their way into landfill sites, the repercussions for the environment can be devastating. Cadmium is also considered more harmful than lead if ingested, and can even be absorbed through the skin by touching a spilled battery.
Thankfully, cadmium no longer exists in the majority of batteries manufactured and imported into the UK these days. A noticeable exclusion from the directive is cordless power tool batteries. It is incomprehensible as to why these batteries have been excluded; hundreds of thousands are still innocently purchased and disposed of every year. A number of power tool manufacturers are exploiting this exclusion; still manufacturing the highly toxic, yet low cost nickel-cadmium batteries while they can. It’s evident that the lure of extra profit and market share is a higher priority than moral and social responsibility.
When the risk of nickel-cadmium was brought to my attention, back in early 2009, I made a decision to immediately discontinue all ‘toxic’ cordless power tools in favour of non-hazardous battery technology. The new lithium-ion batteries didn’t just offer environmental benefits, but also reduced weight, higher performance, longer run times and improved battery life. Coupled with technical developments in the actual tools, I felt the additional cost was more than justified. The company directive remains today and although a handful of power tool companies still ignorantly manufacture and supply the highly toxic NiCAD batteries, our directive will continue into the future.
For any old nickel-cadmium batteries that have come to the end of their life – do not throw them away with domestic waste. They must be disposed of safely to avoid ending up in landfill sites. In line with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) 2002/95/EC, we have battery recycle bins at every Protrade Depot for any old batteries. Please use this facility and support our efforts to help protect our planet for future generations.