As already written in previous articles, batteries and waste batteries have been regulated at the EU level since 2006 in accordance with the Battery Directive, and the Commission proposed a revision of that Directive in December 2020. Mainly due to socioeconomic conditions, technological development, market and use of batteries. Also, the Commission launched the European Battery Alliance in 2017 to build an innovative, sustainable and globally competitive battery value chain in Europe and to ensure the supply of batteries needed to decarbonise the transport and energy sectors.
In line with the circular ambitions of the European Green Deal, the Battery Regulation is the first piece of European legislation to approach the full life cycle in which procurement, production, use and recycling are incorporated into a single law.
On August 17, 2023, a new legal framework came into force that ensures the collection, reuse and recycling of batteries in Europe. The new Regulation ensures that batteries in the future have a low carbon footprint, use minimally harmful substances, require fewer raw materials from countries outside the European Union, and are largely collected, reused and recycled. All of the above will support the transition to a circular economy, increase the security of supply of raw materials and energy, and improve the strategic autonomy of the EU.
Batteries in the EU will be environmentally friendly.
The Battery Regulation will ensure that batteries placed on the EU’s single market can only contain a limited amount of harmful substances that are nevertheless necessary, while regularly checking for substances of concern. Under due diligence obligations under the new law, companies must identify, prevent and address social and environmental risks associated with the procurement, processing and trade of raw materials (lithium, cobalt, nickel, natural graphite) contained in their batteries.
For this reason, from 2025, the Regulation will introduce declaration requirements, performance classes and maximum carbon footprint limits for electric vehicles, then light means of transport (such as e-bicycles and scooters) and rechargeable industrial batteries. Targets for recycling efficiency, material recovery and recycled content will be introduced gradually. All collected batteries will have to be recycled and achieve a high level of recovery, especially of the critical raw materials cobalt, lithium and nickel. In this way, valuable materials will be recovered at the end of their useful lives and returned to the economy, with stricter efficiency targets.
Battery replacement – anyone could do it themselves.
From 2027, consumers will be able to remove and replace the removable batteries in their electronic products at any point in their life cycle, which will extend the product’s life before final disposal, encourage reuse and contribute to waste reduction.
Until now, it was necessary to visit a specialized store or shop to change the battery in a laptop or mobile device. The European Parliament aims to change that. Batteries in such and similar devices will be able to be changed by private persons themselves, that is, they will have to be able to do so. Of course, there will be exceptions, such as devices used in wet environments, and for safety reasons, devices with the possibility of malfunctioning after independent battery replacement, as well as professional medical devices, will be excluded from the rule.
Also, the QR code will give them access to a digital passport that will contain detailed information about each battery. The above will represent a very important link in the value chain in efforts to make it easier for both consumers and experts to contribute to the realization of a circular economy for batteries.
What is expected in the next steps is the implementation of the law in the Member States and the preparation of secondary legislation (through implementing and delegated acts) containing more detailed rules.
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