EU legislators have agreed about a new set of rules that aim to make the batteries in the block more sustainable and reusable.
The regulations cover the entire lifecycle of the battery: from material extraction and industrial production to disposal. They will 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, as well as batteries used in two-wheelers and electric cars.
The green requirements of the newly agreed rules represent an impressive milestone for the Union as part of its objectives to promote its energy transition and increase its competitiveness in the sector.
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However, they can present manufacturers with a range of challenges, especially in the consumer electronics and automotive industries.
Under the new rules, all companies selling batteries on the EU market must implement a “due diligence” policy, addressing the social and environmental risks associated with the sourcing, processing and trading of raw materials.
They will also have to use a fixed 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% in 2023 and 73% in 2030; in the case of EVs, at 100%.
These developments can be particularly challenging for global automakers and battery producers as they must prepare for the new requirements by carefully reviewing their supply chains, reviewing their supply chains, reassessing their operations and establishing strategic partnerships with recyclers.
Portable batteries in electronic devices, meanwhile, 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 on the market today come with non-removable batteries. The argument is that this design allows for the development of leaner and more durable products.
In the event of a battery failure, consumers are referred to specialized service shops where the repair or replacement is carried out by a technician.
The new battery rules together with those of the EU “right to repair” Legislation would mean not only a reduction in the manufacturer’s profit on maintenance, but also the prospect that brands will have to rethink the overall design of their products.
The battery regulation is awaiting final approval by Parliament and the Council, and if adopted, will set a high green standard for the global battery market for years to come.