Cordless Power Tools in the Nordic Countries

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The toxic heavy metal cadmium is used in rechargeable nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries, and is spread to the environment through, among others, treatment of waste containing the batteries that have not been sorted out. Cordless power tools currently constitute the largest single input of portable nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries in many European countries. This report describes the supply situation for cordless power tools in the Nordic countries and discusses the key technical factors influencing substitution of NiMH for NiCd batteries in this sector. NiMH-driven power tools are sold in large quantities today, particularly on the professional market. Several large producers of cordless power tools recommend NiMH to pro-fessionals. The report presents new data which may inform the process of defining a sustainable regulation of NiCd batteries in the European Union. The project was financed by the PA-group under the Nordic Council of Ministers.




The share of NiMH for professional tools was estimated to about 60% in 2003, and it is most likely still on the rise in 2004. 30-50% of the Do-It-Yourself sales are equipped with NiMH batteries in 2004.In 2003 30% of sales of cordless power tools were with NiMH, while the remaining 70% were with NiCd batteries. Some professionals prefer NiMH-batteries because of their higher capacity; also some environment protection-orientated hobby users prefer these tools. Some professionals working outdoor prefer NiCd batteries because the Ni-MH-batteries do not have enough performance at low temperatures.Today 90% of the professional cordless power tools are sold with NiMH, the remaining 10% being NiCd-equipped. NiCd-equipped power tools seems to have the majority of the Do-It-Yourself market, in spite of the high taxes on NiCd batteries. About 65% of the sales of Do-It-Yourself power tools are NiCd-driven, while the remaining 35% are NiMH-driven.


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