EU lawmakers have agreed on a new set of rules aimed at making batteries in the EU more sustainable and reusable.
The regulations will cover the entire battery life cycle: from material extraction through industrial production to disposal. They apply to all types of batteries sold in the EU, including portable batteries used in electronic devices, industrial batteries, SLI batteries used in automotive applications, and batteries used in two-wheelers and electric vehicles.
The green requirements of the newly agreed rules mark an impressive milestone for the Union as it aims to advance its energy transition and increase its competitiveness in the sector.
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However, they could pose a number of challenges for manufacturers – particularly in the consumer electronics and automotive industries.
Under the new rules, all companies selling batteries in the EU market must implement a “due diligence policy” that addresses the social and environmental risks associated with the sourcing, processing and trading of raw materials .
They must also use a set percentage of recycled materials: 16% cobalt, 85% lead, 6% lithium, and 6% nickel.
In addition, the EU has set ambitious collection targets to ensure a steady flow of recycled materials. For electronic devices, the targets are set at 45% by 2023 and 73% by 2030; 100% for electric vehicles.
These developments could prove particularly challenging for global automakers and battery manufacturers, as they would need to prepare for the new demands by carefully reviewing their supply chains, reviewing their supply chains, reassessing their operations and entering into strategic partnerships with recyclers.
Meanwhile, portable batteries in electronic devices must be designed so that consumers can easily remove and replace them.
This threatens the current practices of major consumer electronics brands such as Apple and Samsung.
The vast majority of smartphones and laptops currently on the market have built-in batteries – arguing that this design allows for the development of slimmer and longer-lasting products.
In the event of a battery failure, consumers are referred to dedicated service shops where the repair or replacement will be performed by a technician.
The new battery rules, along with EU “right to repair” legislation, would not only mean fewer maintenance wins for manufacturers, but also the prospect of brands having to rethink the overall design of their products.
The Battery Regulation is yet to be passed by Parliament and Council and if passed will set a high green standard for the global battery market for years to come.