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EU battery rule may zap iPhone, blow away MacBook Air

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The EU is readying a new set of directives that could spell trouble for Apple's iPhone and any other gadget that lacks an easily removable power pack.

A new, draft batteries directive mandates that power cells inside electronic devices must be "readily removable" for replacement and safe disposal. This isn't the case with the iPhone, which does not have a user-replaceable battery.

Neither do Apple's numerous iPods, or a growing number of handheld devices from other manufacturers.

Under the terms of the directive, by 2012, at least 25 per cent of all portable batteries - including mobile phone, laptop and car batteries - used annually in each member state must be recycled. By 2016, 45 per cent of them have to be.

Mercury, lead and cadmium are by far the most challenging substances in the battery waste stream, the EU says.

Although finer details of the removable-battery mandate have not yet been defined - is it sufficient for the supplier to be able to remove a product's battery? - Gary Nevison of Leeds-based repair services company Premier Farnell believes the requirement is "clearly intended to ensure that users can remove batteries by opening a cover by hand or after removal of one or two screws". ®

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