In July 2019, the ACCC established a taskforce to conduct an investigation into button battery safety and consider the options available under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) for reducing the risk of death and injury to young children. In December 2020, the Assistant Treasurer announced the introduction of four new button battery related mandatory safety and information standards.
Safety and information standards
The new standards include requirements for secure battery compartments on products that contain button batteries, child-resistant packaging for button batteries themselves, and improved warnings and information.
The four new mandatory standards under the ACL are:
- Consumer Goods (Products Containing Button/Coin Batteries) Safety Standard 2020
- Consumer Goods (Products Containing Button/Coin Batteries) Information Standard 2020
- Consumer Goods (Button/Coin Batteries) Safety Standard 2020
- Consumer Goods (Button/Coin Batteries) Information Standard 2020
The mandatory standards include an 18 month transition period to allow suppliers time to implement any manufacturing and design changes to products and packaging to comply with the new requirements. From June 2022 suppliers must comply with the requirements in the standards.
The ACCC will develop plain language guides that explain what businesses must do to comply with the new standards.
The ACCC will also develop material to help consumers understand what they should expect from suppliers under the new standards and raise awareness about the button battery hazard.
Use of the term 'button batteries'
For the purposes of the ACCC’s investigation, button cell batteries and coin cell batteries are each referred to as ‘button batteries’. In the battery industry, the term ‘coin’ is associated with lithium batteries and the term ‘button’ is associated with non-lithium batteries.
From July 2016, the ACCC led a two-year National strategy for improving the safety of button battery consumer products (National Strategy), working with other ACL regulators to improve the safety of consumer products containing button batteries.
The National Strategy commenced alongside release of the voluntary Industry Code for Consumer Goods that Contain Button Batteries (Industry Code), developed by industry and published in 2016.
In early 2019, the ACCC conducted an evaluation of the evidence collected during the operation of the National Strategy, including the results of market surveillance activities and data from poisons information centres and injury surveillance units.
The key finding of the evaluation was that awareness-raising activities and supplier self-regulation was not meaningfully reducing the risk of injury and death to children from exposure to button batteries and that regulatory action should be considered to address the hazard of button batteries.
On 16 August 2019, the ACCC released a button battery safety Issues Paper for comment. The issues paper invited responses from interested stakeholders on button battery safety, the perceived safety risks, the effectiveness of the voluntary Industry Code, consumer information and the button battery market in Australia.
Consultation closed on 30 September 2019. The ACCC received 29 submissions in response to the Issues Paper.
Submissions received have been published on the ACCC’s consultation hub at:
Button Battery Safety Issues Paper — published responses
On 19 March 2020, the ACCC released the Button Battery Safety – ACCC assessment of regulatory options – Consultation Paper for comment. The consultation paper outlined proposed mandatory requirements for button batteries and consumer goods that use them.
Consultation closed on 30 April 2020. The ACCC received 67 submissions in response to the Consultation Paper. These submissions will inform the ACCC’s development of a Final Recommendation to the Commonwealth Government in 2020.
Submissions received have been published on the ACCC’s consultation hub at: Button Battery Safety Consultation Paper - published responses.
World Trade Organization notification
In September 2020, the ACCC notified the World Trade Organization, under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, of the draft safety and information standards. One member nation provided comments on the notification. Comments were also received from seven industry stakeholders.
In December 2020, the ACCC made a recommendation to the Assistant Treasurer to make mandatory safety and information standards under the ACL.
An addendum report was subsequently provided to the Assistant Treasurer on the World Trade Organization notification process that was underway when the Final Recommendation was developed.
In December 2020, the Assistant Treasurer announced the introduction of four new button battery related mandatory safety and information standards under the ACL.
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