Back in July 2006, the European Union approved the latest version of its battery directive, one of many directives aimed at promoting a clean environment and standardised manufacturing.
The directive, which came into force late last month, contains one particular article that will make for unpleasant reading for manufacturers such as Apple.
Article 11 states that batteries in consumer devices must be able to be "readily removed" in an effort to prevent the batteries from winding up at landfills as part of the device they power.
Apple, currently the world's leading manufacturer of portable music players with its hugely-popular iPod, is renowned for shipping portable products that contain built-in batteries that can only be removed or replaced by Apple itself. Despite offering a free recycling program for devices such as the iPod and iPhone, the California-based manufacturer may find its popular products don't abide to EU requirements.
However, will the "readily removed" requirement really have much of an impact? At present, the term "readily removed" doesn't have a specific definition and is open to interpretation by the manufacturer. Unless the EU expands on article 11 with a more comprehensive definition, Apple may not be required to make immediate changes, but it'll no doubt be mindful of the directive in future.