Dreamstime Images
Dreamstime L 152276462

Europe Union Passes New Regulations for Batteries

July 5, 2023
The EU lays out new rules governing the design, production and disposal of industrial batteries.

Download this article in PDF format.

Advancements in technology, high consumer demand for electronics and shrinking product lifecycles have made e-waste one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the world. Between 2010 and 2019, for example, e-waste generation increased by roughly 60%. By 2030, annual e-waste production is expected to reach 75 million metric tons. 

According to Statista, just 17% of the world’s e-waste is collected and properly recycled each year. The fate of the remaining waste is mostly unknown, it says, so “huge amounts of valuable recoverable raw materials are likely dumped and burned.” Hidden in those raw materials are a high number of batteries that often suffer the same fate as the rest of the equipment or devices that rely on those batteries for power.

Renew Europe says battery applications are key to reducing greenhouse gases (GhGs) to accelerate the green transition and to meet climate goals. “However, the exponential need for powerful and reliable batteries—it is estimated that we will need 14 times more batteries by 2030—also brings new challenges towards the reuse of the components and raw materials used,” the group adds.

The Industrial Battery Supply Chain

Ready to tackle the industrial battery-related e-waste problem head-on, the European Union (EU) recently laid out new rules governing the design, production and disposal of batteries. In June, Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement to overhaul EU rules on batteries and take into account technological developments and future challenges.

Focused on the complete, circular battery supply chain, the new rules are focused on these four core points:

  • Stronger sustainability, performance and labelling requirements
  • Due diligence policy to address social and environmental risks
  • More stringent targets for waste collection, recycling efficiency and material recovery
  • Portable batteries in appliances will be easier to replace

According to the European Parliament, the rules apply to all types of batteries sold in the EU, including portable batteries; SLI batteries (supplying power for starting, lighting or ignition of vehicles); light means of transport (LMT) batteries (providing power for the traction to wheeled vehicles such as electric scooters and bikes); electric vehicle (EV) batteries; and industrial batteries.

Parliament says all economic operators placing batteries on the EU market will have to develop and implement a “due diligence policy” consistent with international standards to address the social and environmental risks linked to sourcing, processing and trading raw materials and secondary raw materials.

“For the first time, we have circular economy legislation that covers the entire lifecycle of a product - this approach is good for both the environment and the economy,” a spokesperson from Parliament said in a press release. “We agreed on measures that greatly benefit consumers: batteries will be well-functioning, safer and easier to remove.”

Labels and QR Codes

To better inform consumers, batteries will now have to carry labels and QR codes with information related to those batteries’ capacity, performance, durability and chemical composition, as well as the “separate collection” symbol. In addition, LMT batteries, industrial batteries with a capacity above 2 kWh and EV batteries will also be required to have a “digital battery passport” (DBP) including information on the battery model plus information specific to the individual battery and its use.

A digital record system that enables the transfer of information between parties, the DBP only applies to industrial batteries. It ensures that recovery organizations can determine the best course of action for waste batteries based on their chemistry and use history.

Some of the other requirements and goals of the new rule include:

  • Collection targets are set at 45% by 2023, 63% by 2027 and 73% by 2030 for portable batteries, and at 51% by 2028 and 61% by 2031 for LMT batteries.
  • Minimum levels of recovered cobalt (16%), lead (85%), lithium (6%) and nickel (6%) from manufacturing and consumer waste must be reused in new batteries.
  • All waste LMT, EV, SLI and industrial batteries must be collected, free of charge for end-users, regardless of their nature, chemical composition, condition, brand or origin.
  • By December 2030, the Commission will assess whether to phase out the use of non-rechargeable portable batteries of general use.

Parliament and Council are currently working to formally approve the agreement before it’s officially enforced.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Supply Chain Connect, create an account today!