The EU is adopting rules to make its batteries greener, from smartphones to cars

published on Saturday 10 December 2022 at 01:33

The EU will force manufacturers to make batteries more environmentally friendly, easier to replace and recyclable, according to a deal reached Friday between MEPs and member states, which calls for the “circular economy” to boost battery production in Europe.

The adopted text covers the entire battery cycle from design to end-of-life and will apply to all types of batteries sold in the EU – smartphones, computers, household appliances, scooters, cars, industrial batteries. ..–, says a press release from the European Parliament.

From 2024, manufacturers must provide information on the total expected carbon footprint of each battery, from mining to recycling. And after 2027, only the batteries of electric cars that do not exceed a maximum threshold may be placed on the market. Sustainability and performance criteria will also be imposed in 2026.

In three and a half years, smartphones or electronic devices must also be designed in such a way that they can easily remove and replace the battery.

Companies that use batteries in their products must above all comply with binding collection targets: 45% of telephone or computer batteries must be collected by 2023 and at least 73% by 2030.

For batteries of electric bicycles, scooters and scooters, the minimum take-back percentage in 2031 is 61%.

All collected batteries must be recycled, with a high recovery rate of critical components: by 2027, the processes applied must enable the recycling of at least 90% of the batteries’ cobalt and nickel, as well as 50% of the lithium (then 80 % in 2031).

– “World Reference” –

Finally, the composition of new batteries must contain a minimum content of metals from waste recovery: after 2031, batteries for electric vehicles must contain 16% cobalt, 6% lithium and recycled nickel.

“These environmental requirements will apply to batteries produced in Europe as well as imported batteries, and will gradually limit access to the European market to the most sustainable batteries,” explains Pascal Canfin (Renew, Liberals), chairman of the Environment Committee at the European Parliament . .

With the effect of strengthening European production and reducing, thanks to recycling, the EU’s dependence on imports of critical metals (lithium, cobalt, etc.), he notes.

“It is a leap forward to strengthen our competitiveness, while the EU is very far behind Asia and the United States in terms of batteries,” agreed MEP Jessica Polfjard (EPP, right), negotiator of the agreement.

The EU is aiming for 25% of global battery production by 2030, up from just 3% in 2020. The continent, which has invested heavily in the sector, had around 40 battery factory projects last year.

“Global competition is fierce and demand has increased strongly; we want to ensure that we are not a mere subcontractor dependent on others, and that clean mobility will create jobs in Europe,” said Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton .

The text aims to better inform consumers: batteries will have to be labeled and QR codes providing information about their performance and lifespan, and a “digital passport” will be created to describe their origin and composition, which will ultimately facilitate its recycling.

This law “makes it possible to rebalance the rules of the game between European manufacturers and importers” and will help to make batteries sold in Europe “the new world reference in terms of sustainability”, welcomes Lucien Mathieu of the NGO Transport&Environment.

Especially since battery sellers will also have to ensure that the components (lithium, nickel, cobalt) have been sourced in accordance with high environmental and social standards, a “duty of vigilance” that applies to the entire supply chain, he notes.

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