EFS Consulting

Button Cell Batteries: Petition to allow for smaller safety labelling

On September 21, 2023, the Commission implemented Reese’s Law by publishing a Safety Standard for Button Cell or Coin Batteries and Consumer Products Containing Such Batteries, outlined in 16 CFR part 1263. Its requirements on the implementation of warnings for customers seem to be difficult to implement. Additionally, it could depict financial burdens for producers. Consequently, a voice in the industry has officially suggested amendments to the law.

Required implementation of warnings

The law mandates that button cell or coin batteries must feature special warning notices for customers. This includes a warning on their display panel at the point of sale, and a ‘Keep out of Reach’ icon at least 8 mm in diameter. The law does provide for a solution if the space is too small for a full warning with the icon. In this case, it must display the ‘Keep out of Reach’ icon on the principal panel or front of the package, and the warning text on a secondary panel. However, the icon must be enlarged to at least 20 mm for visibility (16 CFR 1263.4(b)(2)).

Industry voicing issues and alternatives

After publishing, the Commission received a petition requesting a modification of the law. It shall allow for a smaller, scalable ‘Keep out of Reach’ icon, when space on the packaging is insufficient. The petitioner also questioned the need for this icon altogether, when batteries of at least 16 mm bear that mark which is visible through the packaging. Included in the petition are suggestions for scalable icons reaching from 8 mm to 20 mm depending on packaging size. Furthermore, in the petitioner’s the packaging is already child proof and collective spendings on new packaging will reach the extent of multiple millions of dollars.

A potential compromise

The Commission now asks for commenting with any issues or evidence not yet discussed. They are also considering the use of a 20 mm ‘Keep out of Reach’ icon in sticker format on battery packaging. For this solution, the Commission is discussing whether it would meet safety requirements and cost-effective. With this alternative, they are trying to find a compromise between the strict legislator and economic players. Comments can be submitted until 29 March 2024, find more information here.

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